SAN ANTONIO – Multiple customers of convicted San Antonio thief Carlos Elizondo said he issued reimbursement checks in recent weeks that his bank then refused to cash, adding an extra layer of problems for Elizondo as law enforcement agencies in multiple jurisdictions examine new theft allegations against him.
Elizondo, who was referred to by a judge in late 2017 as a “wolf who preys on the sheep of society,” is now accused of carrying out a similar fencing, deck and lawn care scheme that initially landed him in jail after his release last year.
Rachel Rosas is one of 12 people who provided the KSAT 12 Defenders records in recent months showing they hired Elizondo without knowing his criminal history and paid him for fencing, deck or lawn care work that was either never completed or never started.
“The manner in which this man victimizes other people is done in such a cunning manner, where he smiles to your face and promises you all of these things and then knowingly takes your money and disappears,” said Rachel Rosas, who has a pending theft case against Elizondo filed with the Schertz Police Department.
Records show Rosas and her husband agreed to pay Elizondo close to $3,000 in late July to put down new sod in the large backyard of their Schertz home.
Rosas gave Elizondo a check for $1,600 to cover the cost of the grass.
“Kept saying that he would begin the next week and then he would begin the next week. And he made excuses about why he hadn’t begun the work yet,” said Rosas.
After having only “spotty communication” with Elizondo for over a month, Rosas said she and her husband demanded a refund.
While Elizondo later issued a refund check from a Frost Bank business account, records show the account was placed in review status and then closed out when Rosas attempted to get back her money.
Elizondo told Rosas in a Sept. 16 email that the incident had put him “in a real bind.”
Records show that same day Rosas reported Elizondo to the Schertz Police Department.
Schertz police officials late last month said Rosas' case against Elizondo had been assigned to a detective and was still being investigated.
Elizondo issued Rosas a second reimbursement check in late October, which appeared to be from his personal account, but when Rosas attempted to cash it the bank stamped it with “endorsement canceled” and refused to provide her the funds.
“They could only tell us they could not give us any information about the person who made the check. They could only tell us they could not cash it and referred us back to the maker of the check, being Elizondo,” said Rosas.
A second alleged victim, a Converse-area woman who hired Elizondo to build a backyard deck this summer, said the bank refused to cash the reimbursement check Elizondo sent her because there was not enough money in the account to process it.
Elizondo accumulated 10 theft charges in less than three years, between 2014 and 2017, three of which included elderly victims, according to court records and this reporter’s previous coverage of him and his company, Lawn Enforcement Rescue Services.
He was sentenced to four years in jail in late 2017 after prosecutors moved to revoke his probation on four previous theft convictions when he racked up new charges.
But after Judge Wayne Christian sentenced Elizondo to serve one year in jail for each of the convictions — sentences Judge Christian had ordered to run consecutively — the judge himself worried that Elizondo would be released long before his jail terms expired.
“I recommend to the sheriff of Bexar County that he keep you in jail day for day, although I have no authority to do that, the sheriff does,” Christian said during the November 2017 sentencing hearing.
Court records show Elizondo was released from custody in early January 2019, which means he served less than a third of his four-year sentence.
Many people who had issues with Elizondo recently said they were unaware of his criminal past because he began using his middle name, Rene, when conducting business.
“Impossible for us to continue doing business.”
Elizondo claimed in early October he shuttered the most recent iteration of his company, Alamo Fence Co., because of rising material costs exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The recent surge in building materials and the cost of delivery have made it impossible for us to continue doing business. It is after much prayer and with a heavy heart to inform you that I have closed for business,” Elizondo wrote in an email later turned over to the Defenders.
But why did Elizondo, as recently as Oct. 29, post pictures on Facebook of fencing and deck work to a Stone Oak community group with more than 23,000 members? And why, as Defenders video recorded earlier this month shows, was there a large stack of lumber in front of Elizondo’s North Side home?
Before the Defenders could ask Elizondo these questions or speak with him about issuing bad checks, he drove away from his home.
Elizondo then drove down his street several times throughout the day but did not at any point return to his home.
Elizondo eventually responded to an email from this reporter and in it claimed he had every intention of paying back all of his former customers.
He said he reached a mediated settlement with one of his customers through the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center and was paying back a second customer through an installment agreement.
Elizondo said a third customer attempted to cash a refund check prematurely, but that the debt had since been satisfied.
Bexar County Sheriff’s investigators late last month filed a theft under $2,500 case against Elizondo with the district attorney’s office.
Elizondo, if arrested, would face an elevated felony charge in that case and any other theft case because of his prior convictions.
A DA spokesperson said the office could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.