Nora Cortez Mercado

Nora Cortez Mercado, 36, of Santa Ana (Courtesy of Costa Mesa Police Department / August 11, 2014)

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  • Orange Ave & E 17th St, Costa Mesa, CA, 92627, United States

Police have arrested a Costa Mesa 7-Eleven store manager on suspicion of falsely reporting that she had been the victim of a carjacking and robbery, authorities confirmed Monday.

Nora Cortez Mercado, 36, of Santa Ana told police she was on her way to a bank Aug. 4 to deposit $32,000 in cash for the store when a masked man with a handgun stole the money along with her 2003 Chevrolet Malibu.

She said the man approached her in the alley behind the convenience store at Orange Avenue and East 17th Street. The vehicle was found abandoned a block and a half from the store.

During an interview with Mercado, detectives realized there were discrepancies in her story, according to a news release from the Costa Mesa Police Department. They suspected that the carjacking and robbery were staged to cover up a conspiracy by Mercado and Jose Zarate-Alvarez to steal the bank deposit from the 7-Eleven, the release stated.

Mercado was arrested Thursday after a follow-up interview. Zarate-Alvarez, 37, of Santa Ana, turned himself in on Saturday. Both are accused of conspiracy, grand theft, commercial burglary and filing a false police report.

They are in jail with bail set at $20,000 each.

Costa Mesa police have forwarded the case to the Orange County district attorney's office.

Anyone with additional information is asked to contact Det. Mario Garcia at (714) 754-5363 or Sgt. Ed Everett at (714) 754-5395.