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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, February 26, 2015

Sacramento Woman Sentenced To 4 Years Imprisonment for Stealing Over $600,000 From Concord Company

OAKLAND – Consuelo “Connie” Puente was sentenced today to 4 years imprisonment and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $779,854.53 for wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, announced United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Acting Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

Puente pleaded guilty on December 4, 2014.  According to court documents, from May 19, 2008 to June 18, 2013, Puente was employed by a company in Concord, Calif. In January 2009, Puente was assigned to the payroll department and was the only employee responsible for handing payroll for her employer. Puente admitted she devised a scheme to defraud her employer from June 2009 through June 2013 by receiving wages paid in the names of former employees. Pursuant to her scheme, Puente obtained from the company’s personnel files personal identifying information of three former employees. She changed their status to current employees so that her employer would pay wages in their names. Puente listed her own bank account information as the bank account to receive the wages.

As a result, between 2009 and 2013, her employer erroneously transferred net wages of $543,545.08 into Puente’s bank accounts. The company also paid to the IRS withholdings of $84,362.45 for a total of $627,907.53 in gross wages. To account for the wages paid in the names of the former employees, Puente prepared IRS Forms W-2 for each of the former employees. Puente also admitted that she filed false tax returns for 2009 through 2013 that omitted the $543,545.08 she stole from the company, resulting in $151,987 in tax liabilities.

Puente, 44, of Sacramento, was indicted on March 18, 2014, and charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of aggravated identity theft. She pleaded guilty to one count of each.

The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, United States District Court Judge. Judge Rogers also sentenced the defendant to a three year period of supervised release and restitution. The defendant who is in custody will begin serving the sentence immediately.

Assistant US Attorneys Jose A. Olivera and Thomas Moore are prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the IRS, Criminal Investigation and the Concord Police Department.

Updated February 27, 2015