California man charged in Olympic gold medal theft from US volleyball star

The suspect has pleaded not guilty to stealing the medal.

June 08, 2022, 1:08 PM

A California man has been arrested for the theft of an Olympic volleyball champion's gold medal last month.

The medal, awarded to U.S. women’s volleyball starting setter Jordyn Poulter during the 2020 Tokyo Games, still has not been found, the Anaheim Police Department said in a statement.

PHOTO: In this Aug 8, 2021, file photo, players of Team United States react after receiving their Gold Medals during the Victory Ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
In this Aug 8, 2021, file photo, players of Team United States react after receiving their Gold Medals during the Victory Ceremony at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Toru Hanai/Getty Images, FILE

Jordan Fernandez, 31, was charged with first-degree residential burglary, second-degree vehicle burglary, identity theft and possession of narcotics on Tuesday, the statement said.

Fernandez was arrested Friday and arraigned Tuesday, where he pleaded not guilty. Court records show that he was being held in custody.

Poulter is offering a $1,000 reward for the medal’s return with “no questions asked," Anaheim police said.

"The Anaheim PD and everyone involved in this case have been so helpful and diligent in trying to recover the Olympic Gold medal. I owe them every bit of gratitude and I’m increasingly optimistic that it will be returned," Poulter told ABC News in a statement Wednesday.

According to police, the medal was stolen from Poulter’s car while it was parked in a garage.

The medal, awarded to Poulter as part of the the U.S. women’s volleyball team’s historic first Olympic win, was given after the Americans defeated Brazil in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Games in 2021.

PHOTO: In this Aug. 8, 2021, file photo, USA's Jordyn Poulter and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley pose with their gold medals during the women's volleyball victory ceremony during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
In this Aug. 8, 2021, file photo, USA's Jordyn Poulter and Michelle Bartsch-Hackley pose with their gold medals during the women's volleyball victory ceremony during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Arena in Tokyo.
Yuri Cortez/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Poulter, 24, was training in California and had been living in Anaheim when the theft occurred. She had left the medal in a bag inside her unlocked car before leaving it in a two-door garage with the door open, police said.

“I really unintentionally forgot to take it out,” Poulter told NBC on Tuesday.

After going inside for a quick Zoom call, Poulter returned to see the car’s center console open and found her bag missing, according to police. The medal, along with several other items, had been taken.

The medal was awarded to Poulter after her first and only Olympic performance so far.

Poulter told the Los Angeles Times she cares more about the emotional value of getting her medal back versus the lost monetary value, citing the medal as being worth less than one might assume.

According to the International Olympic Committee, there are around six grams of gold plating on the 2020 Tokyo gold medals, and the rest is pure silver. The average 2020 gold medal weighs about 556 grams total.

The Anaheim Police Department asks anyone with information on the medal’s whereabouts to contact the department at 714-765-1900 or the Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.

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