WHARTON, Texas The transgender widow of a Wharton County firefighter went before a Harris County judge Thursday to face charges for theft.
While waiting for a Wharton County judge to rule on the validity of her marriage, Nikki Araguz was arrested on a felony charge of theft for allegedly stealing a watch from a friend.
According to court documents filed by the Harris County District Attorney s office, Araguz posted $2,000 bond May 18. The allegations date back to February when a woman claims she was drugged shortly after meeting Araguz and another woman, and that when she woke up, her expensive Rolex watch was gone. The watch is valued at $2,850.
The complainant woke up from a night out at the rodeo barbecue cook off from going to the bar called Eddie V s with a mutual acquaintance of the defendant, and the next morning she woke up and she (the complainant) was wearing a Swatch Watch valued about $170 and her Rolex, valued in the range of $2,000 to $3,000, was missing, said Assistant District Attorney Kimberly Miller.
After discovering her watch missing, the complainant then contacted themutual friendwho d been with the two at the bar.
When she contacted her mutual acquaintance that had been out with them that night, she noticed the defendant on Facebook was displaying the complainant s Rolex watch, said Miller.
Prosecutors say Araguz denied being involved in the theft. But the employee of a Houston pawn shop testified that on March 1, Araguz came into his store trying to pawn a Rolex watch.
Miller says Araguz told acquaintances that she and the complainanttraded watches; the Swatch Watch in exchange for the Rolex.
The woman said the two never traded, and her watch was stolen. She also said the Rolex had sentimental value to her, because it was a gift from her deceased sister.
Miller said Araguz has several previous convictions for theft.
Prosecutors say this theft charge carries a penalty of 180 days to two years in a state jail. They said the time would be day-for-day, which means no jail time will be shaved off for good behavior.
Her next court appearance is scheduled for June 28.
The watch has still not been returned.
In a separate court battle, a judge recently ruled that because Araguz was born a man, her marriage to firefighter Thomas Araguz was not valid, and she is not eligible for $600,000 in death benefits.
Araguz has been fighting with the firefighter s family over the benefits ever since his death in a blaze at a local egg farm last year.
Thomas Araguz s family argued that the money should go to the two children he had with his ex-wife.
Even though the judge made a ruling, the court battle could drag on for some time.
According to attorneys, it s likely that the $600,000 in benefits won t be released until the appeals process is over, and that could take another year.