A man who entered the country illegally, allegedly attempted to scam a Westport couple out of $6,000 and was released on bail by a judge failed to show up for a pretrial hearing on Monday.

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn had previously criticized Judge Thomas Barrett’s decision to allow Hector Arias-Guzman, 29, with an address in Boston to be set free on $4,000 cash bail ahead of his trial.

Arias-Guzman was arraigned on August 1 on charges of attempted larceny and conspiracy. Assistant D.A. Nicole Cheney argued he should be held in jail on $25,000 cash bail due to being a flight risk. Judge Barrett instead set the amount at $4,000, which Arias-Guzman immediately posted and was set free.

Following Judge Barrett’s bail decision, D.A. Quinn issued a statement calling it “clearly too low.”

“The defendant entered the country illegally in January and while residing here in Massachusetts is alleged to have used deception and manipulation to steal thousands of dollars from a local couple,” Quinn said. “Given the defendant’s immigration status and lack of connection to the area, he is definitely a flight risk.”

Courtesy Westport Police
Courtesy Westport Police

When Arias-Guzman failed to show for his pretrial hearing on September 18, the D.A.’s Office filed an additional criminal charge of bail jumping.

“A new arrest warrant has been issued, and we will seek to have his $4,000 cash bail forfeited,” Quinn said.

“The defendant’s failure to appear in courts comes as no surprise. Based on his immigration status, he clearly was a flight risk who had no ties to this community,” he said. “As I indicated previously, the bail set in this case was clearly too low to assure his appearance. The defendant now is at large and has the opportunity to prey on other innocent individuals.”

Guzman was previously apprehended by Customs and Border Patrol in January of this year for entering the United States illegally via the Del Rio area of Texas.

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In late July, the Westport couple entered the Westport Police station to report they had received a phone call from an individual fraudulently identifying himself as their son. He claimed he had been arrested after a motor vehicle crash in Boston in which he had been texting at the time of the crash and had injured a pregnant woman.

“He told the potential fraud victims he was currently in the hospital with injuries but if bail money was not delivered, he would be sent immediately to jail,” D.A. Quinn said. “The caller then put another male on the phone who identified himself as the assigned public defender, who stated his son’s bond would require a $25,000 cash payment within the hour.”

According to Quinn, the couple said they could not get that amount of cash within an hour, and the caller then said he could be released for $10,000 in cash. When they said they couldn’t come up with that amount either, the caller then said $6,000 cash would suffice.

The couple suspected it was fraud and went to the Westport Police. Detective Sergeant Bryan McCarthy spoke with the couple and recognized the name of the supposed “public defender,” Mark Cohen, as well as the cell number as those used in connection with a previous scam that occurred the week prior.

“(McCarthy) told the couple to return home and to call back if the fraudster called back with instructions for the money delivery,” Quinn said. “The fraudster did call back with instructions on how to package the cash and advised that a Lyft driver would be arriving to collect the money for delivery to Boston.”

Det. Sgt. McCarthy assembled a surveillance team and followed the Lyft driver to an address in Taunton. They saw a man approach the vehicle and take possession of the package; Quinn said that upon seeing McCarthy and other plain clothes officers approaching, he fled on foot.

McCarthy chased the suspect and arrested him. He was later identified as Arias-Guzman.

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