Suspected World Cup trophy thief arrested
The trophy was recovered more than a month ago, and now the man who investigators believe is responsible for Alex Wilson’s World Cup trophy’s final disappearance is in custody.
A Douglas County arrest warrant was issued for Joseph Hernandez, 48, several weeks ago. El Dorado County Sheriff’s deputies served the warrant last week, and early Monday morning Hernandez was transported to the Douglas County Jail.
Hernandez is charged with theft, a category C felony, for his part in the trophy’s Jan. 25 disappearance.
Wilson, a member of the U.S. freestyle ski team, won the moguls event Jan. 23 at Heavenly Ski Resort. He reported the trophy missing as he was packing to leave the Horizon Casino Resort.
A 23-year-old housekeeper named Latoya Sheree Lewis was first implicated in the crime after a hotel inspector said she saw the crystal-lead vase in a laundry bag on Lewis’ cleaning cart. Lewis later admitted to taking the trophy from Wilson’s room, claiming that she thought it was a vase because it contained dead flowers. She said she often removed and disposed of wilted flowers during her rounds. Lewis said she left the trophy on her cart at the end of her shift.
An informant led Douglas County Sheriff’s investigators to a home in South Lake Tahoe where the trophy was found. Investigators said that Hernandez, who also was a Horizon housekeeping employee, admitted removing the trophy from the hotel, but gave conflicting accounts on where he found it. Hernandez reportedly said he knew the trophy was important and realized he should have returned it. He will appear in Tahoe Township Justice Court this week.
Lewis ended up pleading guilty to resisting an officer and she was placed on probation for 90 days. If she successfully completes her probation, prosecutors said Lewis will be allowed to withdraw her guilty plea and the case will be dismissed.
Before the trophy was recovered Heavenly Ski Resort started the process to replace Wilson’s loss. Investigators said the recovered trophy was turned over to Heavenly, and the new trophy was sent to Wilson.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around the Lake Tahoe Basin and beyond make the Tahoe Tribune's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.