Reds player's friend charged with lying over hotel robbery
June 21, 2012 4:00 AM
By Sadie Gurman Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pittsburgh detectives who were quickly skeptical of a woman's claim that she was robbed in the Downtown hotel room of a Cincinnati Reds pitcher last month have charged her with lying to them about the crime.
Claudia Manrique, 26, of Silver Spring, Md., at first told police she was alone in the room of Aroldis Chapman the night of May 29, when she was attacked by a man posing as a maintenance worker for the Omni William Penn.
She said the stranger tied her up with cloth napkins when she refused to relinquish a Louis Vuitton bag containing $200,000 worth of jewelry belonging to the Cuban ballplayer. He was with his team playing against the Pirates at PNC Park and returned to find his belongings -- clothing, a computer, and other valuables worth about $6,000 -- missing.
The crime startled fellow hotel guests, who heard Ms. Manrique's screams for help and found her partially clothed and crying.
But during 12 hours of detectives' questioning, Ms. Manrique's story began to change, police said. She was at a loss to explain how her attacker knew the bag of jewelry was in the hotel room, and when detectives pressed her on her inconsistencies, she began to cry.
A polygraph test further showed she was not being truthful, Detective James Joyce wrote in an affidavit charging her with a misdemeanor count of filing a false report to law enforcement.
She eventually told them she first encountered the man earlier in the day at a Downtown CVS pharmacy, where he stole her wallet. After taking her wallet, the man told Ms. Manrique he knew her friend in Silver Spring and threatened to hurt her if she did not tell him her room number. When the man showed up at the hotel a few hours later, she told police she willingly let him in, fearing for her friend's safety, the affidavit says.
"We believe that Manrique filed a false police report, due to Manrique changing her story about the robbery, her obvious untruthfulness to detectives and her suspicious actions while staying with Aroldis Chapman," Detective Joyce wrote. "Manrique also by her own admission had a few hours to contact police after first being approached by the actor at CVS but failed to do so."
Ms. Manrique was charged via summons, which means she must return to Pittsburgh for an Aug. 28 preliminary hearing. She could not be reached for comment, and court records did not list an attorney for her.
Police have not filed charges directly related to the robbery. Surveillance footage from the hotel showed a man leaving with a duffel bag, and police reports show that Ms. Manrique's credit cards were among the stolen goods; they were used at locations in East Pittsburgh, Swissvale and Delmont.
Mr. Chapman told police he began dating Ms. Manrique, a Colombia native, in April, and she would meet him in other cities where the Reds were playing. She "wasn't acting like herself" while she was with him in Pittsburgh and had asked him to change her flight plans twice during the week.
"Chapman stated that he believed that Manrique was involved with the theft and not being truthful," the affidavit says. He added that she had been receiving phone calls while she was in their hotel room from a man who was speaking Spanish.
"Chapman found it suspicious that Manrique was speaking English to this male, apparently so that Chapman could not understand her," the affidavit says.
Mr. Chapman, who defected from Cuba in 2009, only speaks Spanish and needs an interpreter to understand English.
He told police he believed the calls were from a man in Maryland to whom she owed $9,000 on a $30,000 debt that allowed her to gain entry into the country, earlier police reports say.
Baltimore County police in March charged Ms. Manrique, who works as a stripper, with stealing between $1,000 and $10,000 from a male acquaintance, who said she transferred money from his bank account into her own while he was out of the room.