U.S. attorneys office : Fresno man took money meant for low income families

FRESNO, Calif.

Richard Norton is also accused of bilking the city, state and federal government out of thousands of dollars.

The U.S. attorney's office says Norton made close to $1 million selling stolen property on eBay. Norton was already facing charges of transporting stolen items across state lines. But Friday night he faces new charges of mail fraud.

U.S. attorneys say he took government money that was set aside for low income families to fix their homes.

Richard Norton left the Fresno county jail in a hurry Friday night.

He did not want to comment on camera about his pending court case but he did enter a not guilty plea in federal court hours earlier.

Norton was arrested at his west central Fresno home by FBI agents Thursday.

The U.S. attorney's office says he applied for and took more than $25,000 that was supposed to be for low income families to fix up their homes.

Instead that money went to Norton's bank account. Neighbors say they hardly ever talked to Norton but say nice cars would start popping up in their neighborhood.

"He showed up in pretty cool cars all of a sudden I mean he used to have cars.... but not that nice cars.... all of a sudden he showed up with nice cars... I thought, "Wow, he must be doing really good in his job," Eduardo Sarabia said.

Other neighbors say despite the changes Norton remained low key.

"It's really been quiet and nobody's been over there. He kind of sneaks in over there. He'll ride a bicycle and sneak in over there," Sherry Neely said.

Back in October Norton was arrested for stealing and selling high end merchandise from a Macy's store in which he was a longtime employee.

The Fresno police department says it happened over a four year period.

Officers say the 48 year old sold those items on eBay and made out with huge amounts of money.

Police believe Norton had more than $5,000 in various bank accounts. Almost $350,000 with the online payment company pay-pal. And more $150,000 in cash.

Norton was released by the judge into the care of his mother until his next court appearance. Norton was released on his own recognizance because the judge didn't think he was at risk to leave the country.

Norton also does not have a prior criminal record. If convicted on all the charges he could face up to 70 years in prison.

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