Siblings plead guilty $4 million Stanford laptop rip-off

By the Daily Post staff

A brother and sister have pleaded guilty to federal charges that allege they were part of a scheme to steal $4 million in Apple MacBooks from Stanford and resell them.

Patricia Castaneda, 37, of San Carlos, pleaded guilty Monday to federal program theft, and her brother Eric Castaneda, 36, of Redwood City, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert, the federal government’s top prosecutor in Northern California.

Patricia Castaneda worked in Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and part of her job was ordering Apple MacBooks for faculty and other employees, according to court documents.

In 2009 or 2010, she began stealing MacBooks she ordered and selling them for cash, prosecutors said. Initially, she sold the MacBooks to an individual she met on Craigslist, according to court documents. But in February 2016, she began giving them to her brother, who sold them to an individual in Folsom who, in turn, resold and shipped the MacBooks to buyers outside California, prosecutors said.

In total, the cost to the university of MacBooks that Patricia Castaneda stole was over $4 million, according to the prosecution. 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.

U.S. District Judge Kimberly Mueller is scheduled to sentence the Castanedas 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.

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