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Saks saleswoman sentenced to 90 days


New York City A former Saks Fifth Avenue saleswoman on Monday was sentenced to 90 days in jail, ordered to do 100 hours of community service and fined $96,000 for stealing from her employer.

Cecille Villacorta, who sold expensive jewelry, was convicted in March of 146 felonies, including grand larceny and falsifying business records. Prosecutors said she ran a scheme in which she gave refunds on items customers never bought or returned and gave unauthorized discounts on expensive items.

Assistant District Attorney David Nasar said Villacorta, 52, gave the refunds and discounts to keep customers happy and coming back to her. He said the scheme allowed her to ring up sales of $27 million and collect hundreds of thousands in fraudulent commissions and bonuses between 2000 and 2006, when she was fired.

Nasar, who said Saks lost $1.4 million because of Villacorta's scheme, asked Manhattan Justice Gregory Carro to sentence her to two to six years in prison. He said she had shown no remorse and continues to insist she did nothing wrong.

Andrea Robins, Saks' director of customer service, also asked for a stiff sentence. She said that while Saks was citing Villacorta "as an example of sales and service excellence, she was stealing from the company."

The judge said Villacorta's crimes warranted some jail time but not as much as requested by the prosecution. He said this was her first conviction, and she had a previously unblemished employment record. Carro also said she must do her community service with an organization dedicated to the underprivileged.

Defense lawyer Joseph Tacopina and Villacorta said outside court that she and other sales people did just what a Saks training supervisor had taught them to do.

He said store executives fired her and called police when she started making too much money. He said she earned $400,000 in her final year on the job.

Tacopina said he will immediately appeal the conviction because the judge refused to let him call witnesses to say Villacorta was doing what she was told to do.

Villacorta has filed a civil lawsuit charging Saks with malicious prosecution.

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