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Eden Prairie Woman Found Guilty Of Embezzling $1.3M

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- The Eden Prairie woman behind the largest embezzlement case ever prosecuted in Hennepin County made no apologies to her victims in court today.

Stephanie Castillo, 42, admitted to stealing $1.3 million dollars from a property management company owned by her mother. The owners of the properties say her "white-collar crime" continues to be felt by real people.

WCCO's camera was allowed into the courtroom today as the judge handed down her punishment. Stephanie Castillo sat head down, hands clasped as those she stole from spoke of broken trust and financial hardship.

Richard Martens was one of the victims.

"I was shocked and dismayed, and felt an immediate sense of betrayal and abuse," he said at the sentencing.

The Eden Prairie mother plead guilty to eight counts of theft by swindle, taking money from the property management company owned by her mother. The total damage was $1.3 million, taken for shopping and to fund her husband's business in Mexico.

"We printed out some of the bank's cancelled checks written to Stephanie and it became apparent they were forged signatures on the checks," Carole Martens told the court.

Castillo forged her mother's signature over 400 times, spending money that belonged to the properties the company managed.

"This embezzlement is one of the largest, if not the largest, ever adjudicated in this courthouse," Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Emery Adoradio said.

When Judge Tanya Bransford asked Castillo if she had anything to say, she shook her head, no, then she listened as punishment was handed down. Guilty of eight counts of theft by swindle, she will spend at least 53 months in a state prison.

"It is rather brazen, Ms. Castillo, the level of deception that you did, and the length of time that you did it," Judge Bransford said.

In addition to the time in prison, the judge also ordered Castillo to pay restitution to her victims.

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