Three Romanian nationals implicated in a multi-state conspiracy to steal gold and other valuables from Hindu and Buddhist places of worship have now been charged in Forsyth County for a related theft that allegedly occurred in May.
Valer Iazmin Varga, 28, Robert-Auras Adam, 31, and Ana-Lordana Adam, 30, were indicted by a Forsyth County Grand Jury on Monday, Oct. 14, on one count of felony theft by taking for allegedly stealing gold necklaces worth more than $15,000 from a south Forsyth Hindu temple earlier this year, according to court documents.
In May, four suspects, who were later identified as Varga, Robert Adam, Ana Adam and another individual not mentioned in the Forsyth County indictment, allegedly stole $15,000 in jewelry from Sri Maha Lakshmi Temple on Peachtree Parkway in south Forsyth.
While the two male suspects distracted priests, a female suspect allegedly stole 10 gold chains off the temple’s statutes, according to authorities. When one priest attempted to go inside the building, one of the male suspects physically blocked him from entering.
Although the defendants allegedly attempted to interfere with the temples’ security cameras, the defendants were captured on camera, in some cases in the act of stealing jewelry.
In September, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia announced that the group had been brought up on federal charges for allegedly traveling to Hindu and Buddhist places of worship in at least six states to commit thefts of gold jewelry and cash similar, including the theft that took place in Forsyth County.
“It is deeply troubling and hard to fathom that criminals would exploit the tenets of one’s faith by taking advantage of their kindness,” Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta, said in a Department of Justice press release. “Even though these suspects are alleged to have travelled from state to state to commit these crimes, they were not able to elude arrest, thanks to our partnerships with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies in six different states.”
When the three suspects were arrested in New York in early June, they had more than $50,000 in U.S. currency, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After their arrest, the suspects were extradited back to Georgia, where they are being held in federal custody, authorities say.
On Sept. 11, Varga, Robert Adam and Ana Adam, were arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Russell G. Vineyard on federal charges of conspiracy to transport, in interstate commerce, stolen goods with a value of at least $5,000 and transporting, in interstate commerce, gold jewelry with a value of at least $5,000.
Another individual associated with the federal case, Stela Patricia Varga, was arrested on Sept. 11 in Slidell, Louisiana on a federal arrest for similar charges.
On Friday, Forsyth County Assistant District Attorney Heather N. Dunn said that since these individuals also face a federal indictment, the Forsyth County case will likely be postponed and removed from the court calendar, possibly indefinitely.
“While we could proceed separate and apart from the federal prosecutor, procedurally we typically don’t. Our case will be dead-docketed pending the case being resolved on the federal level,” Dunn said in an email to the Forsyth County News. “This keeps the case active in our circuit just in case the federal prosecutor(s) dismiss their case, which is rare but does sometimes happen.”
Dunn said that she plans to submit a motion to dead docket the case and expects presiding Superior Court Judge David L. Dickinson to approve it early next week.
The case can always be reactivated, but whether it does or does not depends on how the federal prosecution proceeds, she said.
“Whether a case is reactivated is always a case by case decision,” Dunn said. “But as it relates to this case, so long as the federal prosecution proceeds, I don’t anticipate bringing it back.”Attempts to reach lawyers representing the defendants in this case for comment were unsuccessful as of press time Friday.