166 witnesses called to testify in scam case

Prosecutors have subpoenaed 166 witnesses for the trial of a Medford couple accused of using their children to fraudulently solicit funds that were allegedly spent on movies and monster truck rallies.

Deputy District Attorney Karen Loomis said Carly and Laramie Torres sent their children door to door for more than a year seeking donations to send Carly Torres' oldest daughter to a volleyball camp. Instead of sending the girl to camp, the couple spent the money on weekend trips to the movies and monster truck rallies, Loomis said.

The parents and children allegedly canvassed neighborhoods in Medford, Ashland and Eagle Point from late 2006 through summer 2007. Loomis said small amounts were collected from hundreds of victims, in amounts ranging from pocket change to $40.

"They collected $3, $5 and $10 over a long period of time," Loomis said.

The scam had been going on for months before a suspicious resident phoned Medford police, she said. Police served a search warrant at Torres' home in the 2900 block of Songbird Lane in August 2007.

Carly Torres, 35, is charged with unlawful use of a computer, three counts of third-degree theft and nine counts of second-degree theft. Laramie Torres, 33, is charged with unlawful use of a computer, one count of third-degree theft and one count of second-degree theft.

Police said Carly Torres, usually accompanied by her oldest daughter, presented residents with a flier featuring NBC Camps, a legitimate enterprise. The request for funds came with a coupon for a free car wash, which victims were told could be redeemed after they received a postcard naming the car wash and dates of use, said Vicki Fitzgerald, a legal assistant in the district attorney's office working with Loomis on the case.

In an interview, Fitzgerald said she herself donated to the Torres' fundraising scam. She realized she had given money to a bogus cause after reading about Carly Torres' arrest last August. The money, which amounted to about $2,000, was used for weekend jaunts to the movies or monster truck rallies, she said.

Carly and Laramie Torres have admitted they solicited the funds, but they maintain their legitimate goal was to send their daughter to volleyball camp, Fitzgerald said.

"But they never enrolled her and continued to solicit after the dates for the camp had passed," she said.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com

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