It turns out the woman suspected of stealing a $161,000 Mercedes from a Stahl Motor dealership in March had an ironclad alibi: She was in custody at the time.
Monterey police announced Tuesday that charges against 29-year-old Tamika Ringo of Oakland would be dropped after they confirmed she was in jail in Southern California on March 11 when a woman flashed stolen identification and bank documents to drive off with the Mercedes-Benz CL63AMG.
Ringo pleaded not guilty to auto theft and related charges Monday and was scheduled for a preliminary hearing Aug. 16.
Assistant District Attorney Stephanie Hulsey said Sacramento police arrested Ringo in the midst of a financial fraud investigation there in May. Those investigators also located the Mercedes, stolen from the dealership at 498 Fremont St., and notified Monterey police.
Stahl Motor employees subsequently picked Ringo's booking photo out of a lineup, identifying her as the suspect who was described as a black woman in her early 30s with long black hair.
Monterey police obtained a $140,000 warrant for Ringo's arrest, prosecutors filed charges and she was transported to Monterey County Jail for Monday's arraignment. On Tuesday, police got confirmation that her fingerprints matched those of the woman who had been in custody in Southern California on March 11.
It was unclear Tuesday evening whether Ringo would be transported back to Sacramento or extradited to Henderson, Nev., where she is wanted in another financial fraud case.
Monterey police Lt. Leslie Sonne said Ringo is still suspected of involvement with the group that had possession of the stolen vehicle. She said the department had probable cause to arrest her and no way to check in advance whether she was in custody at the time in question.
Monterey County prosecutors agreed there was cause to file charges, she said, but "due diligence" proved she was not the one responsible for the Monterey crime.
"That's how the system works," Sonne said.