Sacramento Woman Sentenced to Four Years in Prison for Stealing Money from Concord Company

February 28, 2015 11:00 am · 22 comments

A Sacramento woman was sentenced to four years in jail and ordered to pay nearly $780,000 in restitution on Thursday after she pleaded guilty to identity theft and stealing money from a Concord company, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Consuelo “Connie” Puente, 44, pleaded guilty on Dec. 4 to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. According to court documents, she was employed by a Concord company from May 2008 to June 2013.

During that time, she was the sole employee responsible for handling payroll, prosecutors said. Puente admitted to falsifying personnel records and classifying former employees as current employees so they would continue to be paid.

She then deposited that money into her own bank account, prosecutors said. She furthered her scheme by preparing fake W-2 forms for each of the former employees and then omitted the money she was depositing to herself in her own tax returns, prosecutors said.

Puente transferred $543,545 into her own bank account, causing the company to pay an additional $84,362 in false IRS withholdings for a total of $627,908, according to prosecutors.

She was indicted on March 18 last year and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft, but pleaded guilty to just one count of each charge.

In a sentencing memorandum, Federal Public Defender Steven Kalar said Puente was undergoing significant financial hardship at the time and struggling with alcoholism.

He cited the murder of Kelvin Bibbs, the father of Puente’s second child, in a home invasion robbery as one of several traumatic events in her life.

Puente remained close to Bibbs’s family and helped raise his daughter from a previous relationship, Kalar said. The daughter, who is now 29 years old and works as a probation officer, “is devoted to Ms. Puente, who supported her through many difficult years,” Kalar said.

Kalar said Puente had a history of stable employment since she was 18 years old and continued to support her two daughters and stepdaughter even after she lost her partner. She also took on the care of her mother, who Kalar said is illiterate and has a variety of medical problems.

When Puente pleaded guilty, she expressed profound remorse for her actions, Kalar said.

“(I feel) horrible, shamed by my actions and selfishness,” Puente said, according to court documents. “I know that I have failed all my family, work colleagues especially. I feel I have let a lot of people who believed in me down.”

Kalar said Puente is committed to paying restitution for the money she stole.

Prosecutors said Puente is in custody and will begin serving the sentence immediately.

The prison term will be followed by a three-year period of supervised release and she will have to repay $151,987 to the government and $627,908 to the Concord company and anther entity, which was not named in court documents.

Abraham Simmons, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office said he could not disclose the name of the Concord company or disclose the third entity at this time.

1 Disgusted February 28, 2015 at 11:16 AM

This wasn’t a one off. This was a long time scam involving over a half million dollars.

Her excuses ring so hollow, it’s sickening.

2 Cellophane February 28, 2015 at 11:18 AM

No excuses for bad choices. She decided to be a criminal. She has to pay the price.

3 thx4youropinion February 28, 2015 at 11:33 AM

“In a sentencing memorandum, Federal Public Defender Steven Kalar said Puente was undergoing significant financial hardship at the time and struggling with alcoholism.

“He cited the murder of Kelvin Bibbs, the father of Puente’s second child, in a home invasion robbery as one of several traumatic events in her life.”

So? Her traumatic events neither take precedence nor usurp those of anyone else. And apparently they weren’t THAT traumatic since she had the ability to embezzle over a 5 year period.

Life sucks when you get caught.

4 73 MONTE CARLO February 28, 2015 at 11:48 AM

I wonder how many people end up paying restitution. I doubt she has any money left, and she’s headed for prison. Who’s going to hire her when she gets out? She’ll be pushing 50, a convicted felon in a bad job market.

Good luck getting the 780K back.

5 Jo Ann February 28, 2015 at 12:14 PM

Ms Puente is a thief who stole from her employer 2008-2013 & stole ID’s. 4 years is so wrong. She broke Federal & IRS rules also. Everyone goes through hard times. I know someone who was murdered too, I took care of my mom in my home for 35 years. But I didn’t go out & break the law. What about those employees who Id’s were stolen. They are victims too. She did this over a long period time she is a criminal & should be given a longer sentence.

6 Julio February 28, 2015 at 12:26 PM

A lot of people have traumatic events in their lives and don’t become criminals. Give me a break. She could have done a lot longer as far as I’m concerned.

7 Sick Of It February 28, 2015 at 12:55 PM

4 years is a joke but pales in comparison the restitution she’ll never pay.

8 @73 Monte Carlo February 28, 2015 at 1:34 PM

She will have to sell her assets in order to pay restitution, she most likely owns property.
Once released from prison she will be broke and forced to do what she does best, steal.
It’s the same old story, get out of prison, can’t find work, start drinking/using drugs, fall back into crime.
That’s the American justice system.

9 PO'd February 28, 2015 at 1:39 PM

Hasta

10 Anonymous February 28, 2015 at 2:16 PM

Well as long as she was struggling with alcohol…

11 Jerk February 28, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Lol. Sentence the people who took so long to find her scam.

12 . February 28, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Owners of that Concord company are complete idiots. A company with correct checks and balances would have caught her.

Gonna take a wild guess here it is a company that does work for a city or county or both.

13 I knew it February 28, 2015 at 3:15 PM

Must have a large company to not notice that amount of money.
4 years for stealing $780k wow!
That’s $195k a year!
Pays to be a criminal in California….

14 Insanity February 28, 2015 at 4:32 PM

Well, she wasn’t treated badly. She should be more of an average crimminal and she would be treated even better; thank you AB 109.

15 Cautiously Informed February 28, 2015 at 7:19 PM

Well, according the public defender Steven Kalar, if someone has a negative experience in their life, then they are justified in stealing from others and breaking the law. Therefore, according to that wingnut retard since everyone experiences something negative, sooner or later, then it’s ok for anyone and everyone to commit crimes. What law school did he go to?

What’s needed badly in this country is some old west string-em up style of justice.

16 Foster Brooks February 28, 2015 at 8:58 PM

Reminds Me of My Case: I pleaded the 18th. Amendment…The Judge said”The 18th Amendment was Prohibition”…..I said “Yep I was Drunk when I did it!”

17 Person1 March 1, 2015 at 10:44 AM

she got caught. She will pay for her crime in doing time and she will spend the rest of her life in debt. Sometimes people get caught up in bad situations. Sometimes people make bad decisions. She feels shame and remorse and I’m sure she felt bad while doing it. I don’t think it’s necessary to take it any further. I have been clean and sober for over 8 years. I hope she is able to stay sober when she gets out and is able to make a life for herself when she gets out.

18 Silva March 1, 2015 at 12:38 PM

Somehow I doubt there will be any restitution. Is there no photo?

19 JoanieC March 1, 2015 at 12:53 PM

Sorry she was caught she means. Pay back a million dollars…yeah right

20 ConcordMike March 1, 2015 at 1:13 PM

I miss Foster Brooks. He was funnier than ever.

21 M. Lange March 1, 2015 at 4:20 PM

This is also another sad example of a small business with zero checks and balances. I’m always stunned at how someone gets away with embezzlement for years because no one is checking the books. No one should EVER give one person sole ability to write any kind of check without a monthly review by a second person.

She stole a very large sum of money. She must have been living high on the hog to have spent that much, and yet she has nothing to show for it. Instead of buying assets or saving for the future to take care of her family, she blew it all instead. Makes me wonder if her close family are complicit in the theft. I don’t feel sorry for her at all. I think she’s only sorry she’ll be held accountable now. I’m sure her employer will get nothing back. The gov’t always gets their share first.

22 John Pope March 2, 2015 at 2:23 PM

Remorse should only count if a person comes forward of their own volition to atone for something they’ve done. After they’re busted, tried, and convicted it’s simply their fear of punishment that drives them. No sympathy for scum!

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