Woman who forged mother's checks sentenced for stealing $1.3M

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Two white-collar criminals are being sentenced to 80 months – nearly seven years – in prison for stealing a total of $1.5 million.

Both are being sentenced longer than the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines recommend because of the severity of their crimes, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office says in a news release.

Woman steals $1.3 million from mother's company

 Stephanie Castillo. (Photo: Hennepin County)

Stephanie Castillo. (Photo: Hennepin County)

Stephanie Castillo, 42, of Eden Prairie, embezzled $1.3 million from Balderson Management where she worked, the attorney's office says.

Castillo stole more than $1 million from a property management company her mom owned, WCCO reports.

The station says she forged her mother's signature more than 400 times to pay for her sick dog, fund her shopping addiction and cover her husband's business in Mexico.

The news release called it "one of the largest embezzlement cases ever prosecuted" by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

The charges against Castillo said she started stealing from the company in 2009. She was caught in 2014 when one of the property managers got suspicious and called the police to investigate, Sun Current reports.

Castillo, who pleaded guilty in September to eight counts of theft by swindle, is ordered to pay back $1.1 million in restitution.

Edina man poses as investor

Jefferey Petersen, 57, of Edina, stole $337,000 from people he met on Craigslist, according to the attorney's office.

Petersen pleaded guilty to 22 counts of security frauds and theft earlier this year. The attorney says he admitted to falsely posing as an investor on Craigslist. Clients gave him money to invest and did not get it back.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce suspended Petersen's license after two previous illegal transactions, according to the attorney's office. He was caught working without a license in 2013 when an undercover agent from the Commerce Departments Fraud Bureau responded to one of his ads, according to an earlier report from the county attorney.

"Jeff is a master manipulator," Paul Geyen, a victim, told the judge. "I’m a trader myself and he is very, very good at putting together false documents to make himself look good. I’m convinced he will do it again.”

District Judge Tanya Bransford says his scheme was sophisticated and required a high degree of planning. The courts have ordered Petersen to pay back $281,900 to the 11 people he cheated.

WCCO says Petersen claims to have a gambling addiction and said he wants to repay his victims.

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