LEWISTON — A New York man who told police he used bogus Home Depot accounts to go on a spending spree in Maine and later sold the items in New York has denied related criminal charges.

Peter Garces, 22, of Bronx, New York, appeared in 8th District Court last week, where he pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor charges, including misuse of identification, attempted theft, refusing to submit to arrest and assault.

Three of the charges are Class D crimes, punishable by up to 364 days in jail, while one of the charges is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Auburn police responded Sept. 27 to a call from the Home Depot store on Mount Auburn Avenue, where a loss prevention officer said a man had used a Pennsylvania driver’s license to open store credit accounts and used them to charge thousands of dollars of merchandise at several Maine stores, including Biddeford and Windham.

The man was later identified by police by his fingerprints as Garces.

The store officer told police that Garces was at the Auburn store. Auburn police went to the store where Garces was in the process of opening a credit card.

When one of the officers approached Garces, he pulled away, shedding a shirt and ran down one of the store’s aisles, according to the affidavit.

A different officer who stood in that aisle sought to capture Garces, but was thrown off balance and Garces ran to the front of the store. That officer caught up to Garces and jumped on his back before finally bringing him to the floor, where another officer assisted in holding him down and handcuffing him.

While in custody, an apparent accomplice named “Gigi,” who might have been driving a silver minivan, texted him asking whether he was “OK” and said she was near Kohl’s.

Garces was instructed by police to call and tell her to bring the items back to the store, but she hung up and turned off her phone, according to court documents. Garces refused to identify her and said she likely was headed back to New York.

At the police station, Garces told police he used fake IDs to open credit cards at the Home Depot store where he buys expensive items that he takes back to New York to sell at half price. He admitted the Pennsylvania license was fake.

Police said Garces’ spending on the phony accounts under the name Thomas Brown on Sept. 27 totaled $7,714 at the Biddeford store, $1,962 in South Portland, and $5,979 in Windham.

When he was taken to a local hospital for mental evaluation, police discovered in the shoes he was wearing several gift cards as well as driver’s licenses from Kentucky and Connecticut, plus another Pennsylvania license in a different name. They found four Illinois driver’s licenses under four different names.

He was released from the hospital with medications for anxiety and depression.

At Garces’ court appearance, a judge set his bail at $1,000 cash or $500 cash plus supervised release. If released, he may not go to any Home Depot store and must not have any form of identification except his own, and he may not apply for any credit cards unless approved by the court.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: