A mother and daughter from Jamaica, N.Y., avoided prison but drew a stiff rebuke from a sitting judge after pleading guilty to helping a man steal $21,000 worth of jewelry from a Wilton store.

“I’m telling you right now, don’t come back to this state,” Stamford Judge Bruce Hudock said to 33-year-old Erika Santa on June 27, after she made a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit third-degree larceny. Hudock gave her a one-year suspended sentence and a $1,000 fine for her involvement in the scam to distract a Campus Jewelers employee while a male friend purloined $21,000 worth of baubles from a glass case while the employee wasn’t looking. The theft occurred in October 2017.

Hudock told the young woman and her attorney, Frank Bevilacqua, that there were many, many people who come to Connecticut from New York working their scams and they almost always get caught.

When the young woman’s mother Yolanda Santa, 57, went up to make the same plea with identical punishment, Hudock nearly repeated himself and told the elder Santa she would surely be sent to prison if she returned to Stamford and tried to steal anything else. “Do not come to this state to commit a crime,” Hudock said. “You aren’t any good at what you tried to accomplish here.”

Video surveillance from Campus Jewelers showed three women distracting salespeople while the male suspect slipped multiple items into a brown paper shopping bag that he was carrying. The suspects later purchased an item with cash, and left the store with the stolen loot.

Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Joseph Valdes said the man has been identified and serving a sentence in New York.

A third woman, Paula Hurtado from Astoria, Queens, has also been arrested in the case.

Police said none of the stolen jewelry has been located.


jnickerson@stamfordadvocate.com