Patricia Castaneda, 37, of San Carlos, pleaded guilty today to federal program theft, and in a separate case, her brother Eric Castaneda, 36, of Redwood City, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, Patricia Castaneda worked in the School of Humanities and Sciences at a private university in Stanford. In her position, Patricia Castaneda’s duties included ordering Apple MacBooks for university faculty and staff. In 2009 or 2010, Patricia Castaneda began stealing MacBooks she ordered and selling them for cash. Initially, Patricia Castaneda sold the MacBooks she stole to an individual she met on Craigslist. In February 2016, Patricia Castaneda began giving the stolen MacBooks to Eric Castaneda to sell to an individual in Folsom who, in turn, resold and shipped the MacBooks to buyers outside California.
In total, the cost to the university of MacBooks that Patricia Castaneda stole was over $4 million. That amount includes the cost to the university of approximately 800 stolen MacBooks Eric Castaneda sold to the individual in Folsom, which was approximately $2.3 million.
This case is a product of an investigation by the IRS-Criminal Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Thuesen is prosecuting the case.
U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller is scheduled to sentence Patricia Castaneda and Eric Castaneda on June 7. Patricia Castaneda faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Eric Castaneda faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The actual sentences, however, will be determined at the court’s discretion after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables.
Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California
MacDailyNews Take: According to the plea agreement, the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act requires the court to order restitution to the victims of certain offenses. The defendant agrees that her conduct is governed by the Mandatory Victim Restitution Act and agrees to pay restitution in the amount of $4,077,832 to the university.