Earlier this month, Team USA women’s volleyball world champ Jordyn Poulter offered a $1,000 reward for the return of her 2020 Summer Olympics gold medal after it was stolen in Anaheim. Poulter, 24, put up bounty at the time—no questions asked.
Although detectives arrested local resident Jordan Fernandez, 31, on June 7 on suspicion of breaking into a car belonging to Poulter—the starting setter when USA beat Brazil to win its first-ever gold in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games—on May 25 in a garage in the 1500 block of E Lincoln Avenue. Fernandez allegedly stole several of Poulter’s belongings, including the star athlete’s gold medal, but unfortunately the rare memento was not recovered at the time.
On Monday, Maria Carrillo was walking her two dogs in front of her Carrillo Income Tax office on North State College Boulevard around 11 a.m., the Los Angeles Times reports, when she stopped to pick up a McDonald’s bag that someone had dropped on the ground. Carrillo then noticed a plastic garbage bag that someone dropped on the ground. Carrillo picked up that refuse as well, noting that it felt unusually heavy—unusually heavy for what is unclear.
Looking inside the bag, Carrillo next found a black package and opened it, finding the gold medal.
“I thought it was a toy or some kind of imitation,” Carrillo told the Times. “I didn’t think it was going to be a real medal.”
Next, Carrillo got her husband on the phone—Noe Hernandez, of Noel Barbershop on the same street. Bring the medal over, he told her.
“I didn’t believe my wife when she said I found a medal,” Hernandez said. “I thought it was fake and told her to bring it over so we could check it out. I touched it and it was heavy and it said 2020. I said, ‘Oh my God, maybe this is real.’”
Hernandez’s customers at the barber shop quickly pulled up media reports regarding the once-in-a-lifetime burgled national keepsake. The couple alerted Anaheim police, who arrived to retrieve the medal. Detectives are currently working to return the medal to Poulter.
On June 7, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office had charged Fernandez with first degree residential burglary, second degree vehicle burglary, felony identity theft, and felony possession of narcotics.
The Anaheim Police Department said at the time of his arrest, “Mr. Fernandez has a lengthy criminal history.”
Fernandez is presumed not guilty unless convicted in a court of law.
The status of the $1,000 bounty remains unclear.
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