Erica Salgado cashed checks at a Montgomery currency exchange so often that she became friendly with the manager.
Salgado told the manager that the cash went for reimbursements at the Naperville property rental business she owned.
“All lies. All lies,” a DuPage County prosecutor said Thursday before the 24-year-old Montgomery resident was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to make restitution for embezzling more than $100,000 from the rental company, which she didn’t own but where she worked part time answering the phone.
Salgado had pleaded guilty to felony theft and identity theft for forging 80 checks over a 13-month period beginning in 2009 from a little-used escrow account at Rental Homes Inc. in Naperville.
According to prosecutors, Salgado used some of the money to buy designer purses.
The owner, Sandra Walsh, 75, testified that she did not become aware of the theft until she got a bank overdraft notice about the account, where she held security deposits on rental properties.
She and her son went to the bank where she saw two checks with her forged signature, and then they called police who questioned and then arrested Salgado.
“She said she had a problem with buying designer purses,” Naperville Police Detective Tom Sheehan testified.
Walsh said that during the period Salgado worked for her, her husband, now 83, had a recurrence of cancer and her brother died, and she had surgery on her hand, so she was not paying as close attention to the escrow account.
She also said she had purchased things for Salgado’s young daughter, like socks and a tutu and cap for a birthday.
“I thought the relationship was good,” Walsh said. “Obviously, I trusted her.”
Walsh said she has not been reimbursed and must continue to work to try to repay the $102,000 missing from the account. The stress makes her physically ill, she said.
DuPage County Assistant State’s Attorney Helen Kapas asked Judge Blanche Hill Fawell to sentence Salgado to five years in prison.
Salgado had a prior theft conviction in Will County. She was found guilty in 2007 of creating a scheme to fraudulently issue herself gift cards at the JC Penney store in Joliet where she worked as a cashier.
Salgado, the prosecutor said, had not paid “one cent” back to Walsh.
“Clearly she doesn’t get it. She’s never going to get it. She’s never going to make this victim whole,” Kapas said.
A tearful Salgado apologized to her former boss, but did not offer specific answers when the judge asked her what she spent the money on or why she did it.
Salgado said a prison sentence would be difficult on her daughter, but the judge said Salgado had only herself to blame, and that she was “a horrible role model” for the 5-year-old.Copyright © 2015, CT Now