- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) - Authorities say searches of two vehicles in an investigation of an alleged fraud and identity-theft ring in Dona Ana County found large amounts of cash.

The Sheriff’s Office says thousands of dollars of cash turned up in searches conducted late Tuesday night of vehicles allegedly belonging to two of the seven defendants in the case.

Four of the defendants are employees of the County Clerk’s Office.

Authorities say members of the ring are accused of identity theft to fraudulently obtain and cash tax refund checks.

One of the clerk’s office employees made her initial appearance in federal court on Wednesday.

Prosecutors say 42-year-old Maria Ceniceros, of Las Cruces, remains in federal custody pending a June 5 preliminary hearing and detention hearing.

She’s a document technician at the clerk’s office.

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