DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — A Virginia credit union teller who stole more than $600,000 from the vault vanished for more than two years only to be found by police as an armed drug dealer in Durham earlier this year, officials said.
Jorge Omar Navarro, 30, was found in late March when — using a fake name and ID — he claimed he was robbed by men at gunpoint in his Durham apartment, the U.S. Justice Department said.
When Durham police arrived, they found six guns, kilograms of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and $74,900 in cash, according to a news release Monday from the U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Navarro pleaded guilty Monday to embezzling the money from his credit union in Danville, Virginia. He also pleaded guilty to drug charges related to the bust in Durham.
The wild tale of a head teller descending into the life of a blood-covered drug dealer started back in July 2017. That’s when officials say Navarro began taking large amounts of cash from the URW Federal Credit Union.
He kept taking the money for months — until Sept. 2018, authorities say. Federal officials say they have video of him taking cash.
He replaced some money in the vault with counterfeit cash, according to authorities.
In Sept. 2018, Navarro disappeared and went to stay at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Charlotte, authorities say. After checking out on Sept. 10, he text messaged the CEO of the credit union, admitting that he took the money, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Navarro then skipped town and went on the lam with the stolen loot — spending the next two years as a fugitive.
When he was found by Durham police just before 10 a.m. March 31, he was covered in blood and running from gunfire, officials said. Three handguns, a shotgun, two rifles, body armor and money counting machines were found in his unit at Independence Park Apartments, officials said.
Durham police also said there was “blood throughout the apartment.”
The $74,900 police found in the Durham apartment was made from selling drugs, Navarro admitted, the news release said.
“He claimed that he was trafficking cocaine to pay back the bank,” federal officials said in a factual basis document.
He had been using a fake name and fake ID while working as a drug dealer, according to the news release.
Durham police said they found him when they responded that March morning to the apartments at 215 William Penn Plaza about a disturbance with a gun.
It’s unclear where the $617,000 went during Navarro’s two years on the run.
Durham police said he told them that men robbed him of $200,000 on March 31, when gunshots were fired — bringing the police and an end to his run as a fugitive and drug dealer.
“Credit for putting an end to the spree goes to officers of the Durham Police Department, whose thoroughness revealed that the defendant was in fact a drug trafficker and a fugitive from justice,” U.S. Attorney Sandra J. Hairston said in the news release.
Navarro pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime for his conduct in Durham, the news release said.
In the Virginia incident, he pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement and one count of using counterfeit currency with the intent to commit fraud.
Navarro is scheduled to be sentenced on June 21 and faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison.
WFXR-TV contributed to this report.