ST. GEORGE — A 51-year-old woman has been arrested for criminal defamation and lying to police after allegedly naming suspects in a robbery at her St. George business that reportedly never occurred.
On Nov. 26, 2017, investigators were called to the scene of a reported robbery at El Paraiso Tiende, a check cashing business located at 439 N. Bluff St., according to a probable cause statement filed by St. George Police in support of the arrest.
Detectives interviewed the alleged victim, identified as Ruth Angelica Brichaux, who stated two men had come into her check cashing business earlier in the day, noting that one of those men was the owner of a construction business in Las Vegas, the report states.
Employees of the construction owner had previously given Brichaux bad checks, which she said she had cashed for them and was out $33,000, according to the report.
Brichaux told police that the two men came back to the store Nov. 26, arriving in two vehicles, the arresting officer wrote in the sworn statement, adding:
The owner who had (written) the bad checks remained outside, while one of his employees entered the store. He pulled out a black handgun and pointed it at Ruth (Brichaux). He demanded the bad checks back. Ruth said she did not have them, the male then demanded cash. He received a couple thousand dollars then left.
The two men reportedly left in the same vehicle, leaving the second vehicle on scene. Brichaux said no one else was in the store, in the parking lot or involved in the incident, the officer wrote.
When police first arrived on scene, the vehicle that had been left behind was being towed. However, when police arrived, the tow truck driver decided to leave the vehicle, the report states. When investigators later called the tow truck driver, they learned he had been asked to tow the truck to Brichaux’s residence.
Upon comparing notes, investigators discovered Brichaux had not given each of them the same story. Brichaux had given first responding officers a man’s name and said he had followed the two suspects around the city, providing Brichaux with updates as to where they were located, the report states.
Police contacted the two men Brichaux had accused of committing the robbery and both men consented to going to the St. George Police Department for an interview. The two men were interviewed separately, but had the same story, according to the statement.
“The owner said the checks (Brichaux) cashed did bounce,” the officer wrote. “He said he was in communication with Ruth about paying her back. Until he could pay it back, he was bringing her five titles as well as one vehicle for her to hold onto as collateral. That was why he and his employee drove from Las Vegas in two different vehicles. The owner had text messages to prove this.”
While the owner and his employee were at the store, Brichaux allegedly told them she did not want titles, the report states. Instead, she wanted trucks and $4,000 interest per month. When the owner told her that was too much money, Brichaux allegedly said she was going to call the police and immigration on him, prompting the two men to leave.
Both men told investigators there had been another man with Brichaux while this was taking place.
When police located and spoke with the man Brichaux said had been following the suspects, he denied seeing a robbery or following anyone, the report states. He told police he saw Brichaux talking with another man, he then wired money to his family and drove home.
“During my initial interview with Ruth (Brichaux), she was adamant no one else was in the store, other than the one who pulled the gun on her,” the officer wrote. “I listened to the dispatch recording. A male (voice) could be heard talking to Ruth in Spanish.”
On Nov. 30, 2017, the construction owner called investigators stating he had called Brichaux to ask her why she had lied to the police, and that he recorded their conversation, the report states. In the recording, Brichaux can reportedly be heard telling the owner that “if he would pay her the money right away, she would stop the police investigation.”
A couple days later, Brichaux went to the police department and told detectives “the owner called her threatening her that if she did not drop the case he would not pay her back. She said he was telling her ‘bad things,’ so she wanted to close the case,” according to charging documents.
When investigators asked Brichaux about the male voice in the recording, she initially continued to deny there had been anyone else present during the incident, the report states. She then said it was the voice of her worker who had been present the entire time, but said she would not provide his information because she didn’t want to get him deported.
Brichaux maintained that the robbery did occur, but she just wanted her $33,000 back and was not concerned with the robbery, the officer wrote, adding:
I told (Brichaux) there was a legal (civil) process she had to go through for a bad check prior to a criminal investigation being conducted. I told her we were only investigating the robbery. She was not pleased and requested the investigation be stopped.
Brichaux went to the police department for a final interview on Jan. 5 and allegedly admitted she had lied about the incident, according to the statement.
“She said the owner and his employee did not do anything wrong,” the officer wrote. “She apologized about all the work and effort put into the investigation and said she would pay the cost of the investigation put towards it.”
Brichaux was arrested and transported to the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
The Washington County Attorney’s Office filed an information in 5th District Court accusing Brichaux of class B misdemeanor providing false information to law enforcement, along with two class B misdemeanor counts of criminal defamation.
“The owner that was being accused was an owner of a substantial construction company out of Las Vegas, NV,” charging documents state. “Ruth knowingly communicated to detectives information that she knew was false and would tend to expose the owner to receive public hatred, contempt or ridicule.”
Brichaux is scheduled to appear before Washington County Judge Ronald Read for her court arraignment Jan. 29.
According to Utah court documents, Brichaux was arrested in Utah for shoplifting and felony theft in 2016, along with an arrest on an assault charge in 2017. Brichaux entered a plea in abeyance for the shoplifting charge and reached a diversion agreement in the theft case. Her 2017 assault charge was dismissed without prejudice.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
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