SAN JOSE, Calif. – A former employee for the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary Catholic Convent in Los Gatos, Calif., was sentenced yesterday to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $110,000 in restitution for embezzling from the Convent, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced.
Linda Gomez (a/k/a Linda Surrett), 67, formerly of Sunnyvale, Calif. and currently of Chandler, Ariz., pleaded guilty on October 25, 2012. In pleading guilty, Gomez admitted that she used her administrative positions to embezzle cash and to charge personal expenses to a Convent charge card. According to the indictment and evidence presented at sentencing, between 1987 and 2010, Gomez worked for the Convent in various administrative capacities, including as the director of food services and the manager of an on-site convenience store. As part of her professional responsibilities, Gomez made purchases for the 75 Catholic nuns and 60 lay employees at the Convent.
Between March 2008 and her resignation in May 2010, Gomez used various methods to embezzle from the Convent, including obtaining fraudulent reimbursements or credits for products she falsely claimed she had purchased for the Convent and its nuns. In addition to embezzling more than $47,000 in cash, Gomez also diverted more than $53,000 of Convent funds for personal expenses such as jewelry, high-end cutlery, purses, shoes, kitchen appliances and numerous purchases on the QVC and Home Shopping Networks.
Gomez was charged by Indictment filed on Dec. 22, 2011. The Indictment, alleged 14 counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1343, and 3 counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Section 1341. Gomez pleaded guilty, with no plea agreement, to all 17 counts in the indictment.
The sentence was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen. In imposing sentence, Judge Jensen found that the defendant had abused a private position of trust to facilitate her offense and had also made misrepresentations regarding acting on behalf of a religious organization. The defendant was also sentenced to a 3-year period of supervised release with conditions that limit her ability to hold fiduciary roles, and also ordered to pay over $110,000 in restitution. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Jensen ordered Gomez to self-surrender by December 4, 2013, to begin serving her prison sentence.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Fazioli is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Laurie Worthen. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.