Erica Salgado collected more than $100,000 during her 13 months of part-time work as a receptionist for a Naperville rental housing company.
But the 24-year-old Montgomery woman made so much money only because she stole 80 checks written to the business, forged her boss’ signature, then kept the cash, DuPage County authorities said.
Salgado was sentenced Thursday to four years in prison for the thefts, despite her tearful apology to her former boss, Sandra Walsh, who earlier testified that she doesn’t know how she’ll replace the $102,690.
“Sandy, I’m so sorry for what I did to you and your family,” Salgado said, turning in the Wheaton courtroom to face Walsh. “I’m so sorry for what you’re going through and what I’ve done to you.”
Walsh outside the courtroom said Salgado deserved prison for the thefts from her company.
“I’m satisfied,” she said of the sentence.
Judge Blanche Fawell said she imposed the prison term largely because she saw no “genuine remorse” from Salgado for the thefts, nor had Salgado made any effort to even begin repaying what she stole.
“I’m really troubled by the fact not one dollar has been repaid. You’ve made no effort to do that,” Fawell told Salgado, who pleaded guilty last year to felony theft and identity theft.
Fawell also ordered Salgado to pay full restitution for the thefts, which occurred between April 2009 and May 2010 while Salgado worked as an hourly, part-time receptionist for Rental Homes Inc. in Naperville.
Questioned by Fawell, Salgado could offer little information about what she did with the stolen cash, though police said she told them she spent some of the cash to buy designer purses.
Salgado on Thursday said she gave some of the cash to help friends with medical bills, but said she wasn’t sure how she spent most of the money.
“I don’t know where it all went,” said Salgado, who began stealing from her company within three months of completing her probation for an earlier misdemeanor theft from another employer in Will County.
Salgado wrote unauthorized checks to herself from a little-used company escrow fund, then forged Walsh’s signature and cashed them at a local currency exchange, prosecutor Helen Kapas said.
Walsh, the owner of the business, liked Salgado so well that she sometimes bought gifts for Salgado’s young daughter – now 5 years old.
“I thought our relationship was very good and I trusted her,” Walsh, now 75, testified, adding the thefts mean she doesn’t know when she’ll be able to retire.
“I’m always working, I have to replace that money,” Walsh said.
Defense attorney Vincent Cornelius sought probation, arguing Salgado needs to care for her daughter and also could more quickly begin paying restitution if she were working, rather than in prison.
Fawell, though, said the thefts were so blatant Salgado should spend time behind bars.
“You have only yourself to blame,” Fawell said as she imposed the prison term, which likely will keep Salgado in custody for less than two years.