James Allen Dorscht Church Burglary Case in Limbo; Daniel Ruben Cortes is Guilty: Update

See the update at the end of this post about prosecutors declining to proceed in the church-burglary case against James Allen Dorscht and detectives trying to resurrect it, as well as Daniel Ruben Cortes already being sentenced after pleading guilty.

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ORIGINAL POST, JUNE 12, 10:40 A.M.: Irvine Police say a final arrest has been made in the case of Orange County churches, temples and other religious facilities that have been burglarized in recent months.

James Allen Dorscht, 39, was arrested Tuesday afternoon after he stepped out of a family member's apartment on Loara Street in Anaheim and later held on $20,000 bail, Irvine Police said.

The Norwalk parolee was identified last month as a suspect by Lt. Julia Engen, the Irvine Police spokeswoman.

Religious Facilities Burglaries: Robert Dennis, Fernando Flores Held, James Dorscht Sought

Church- and temple-related burglaries investigated by Irvine, Anaheim and Santa Ana police had previously resulted in the arrests of Robert Dennis, 45, of Santa Ana; Fernando Flores, 21, of Garden Grove; and Daniel Cortes, 29, of Santa Ana. All have pleaded not guilty.

Daniel Cortes Held in 3-Man Crew's Theft of Santa Ana Church Safe with $15,000 Inside

After 11 p.m. Monday, someone pried open a window to get into Our Lady of Peace Korean Catholic Center in Irvine and then pried open an interior office door, according to a statement this morning from Engen, who added a free-standing safe containing an undetermined amount of cash was then dragged out of the building.

Police investigators collected fingerprint evidence that suggested Dorscht might be a suspect, a belief bolstered by his being wanted for similar burglaries, Engen noted.

Surveillance of the Anaheim apartment was set up Tuesday and quickly "paid off," according to the spokeswoman, who says that after Dorscht's arrest cash and the safe stolen from the most-recent Irvine church burglary were found inside the Loara Street residence.

Besides the Our Lady of Peace Korean Catholic Center theft, Dorscht is suspected of having been a part of burglaries of the Islamic Center of Irvine and the Mandir Temple, which is also in Irvine.

UPDATE, JUNE 14, 11:10 A.M.: The arraignment of James Allen Dorscht was cancelled and the court clerk told City News Service prosecutors declined to go forward with the case.

But Lt. Julia Engen, the Irvine Police spokeswoman, says detectives are working with prosecutors to file new charges against him.

Meanwhile, Daniel Ruben Cortes, the Santa Ana 29-year-old clearly seen in close-up wearing a black White Sox baseball cap in surveillance video from the Forty Martyrs Armenian Church burglary in his town, pleaded guilty Thursday to second-degree burglary and possession of a controlled substance, both felonies.

Cortes was sentenced to a year in jail.

Remaining defendants Robert Lee Dennis, 45, and Fernando Flores, 21, who have both pleaded not guilty, are due in court for a pretrial hearing June 25.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!



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