Fraud sends woman to jail

A Red Deer woman is headed to a federal prison after pleading guilty to nearly 20 counts of fraud and forgery on Wednesday.

A Red Deer woman is headed to a federal prison after pleading guilty to nearly 20 counts of fraud and forgery on Wednesday.

Celine de Castro, 50, was sentenced to two years in jail and order to repay more than $216,000 she stole from numerous people, Red Deer provincial court heard.

De Castro pleaded guilty to 10 counts of fraud of more than $5,000 each, three counts of fraud valued at less than $5,000 each, two counts of uttering forged documents, two counts of unauthorized use of a credit card and breaching conditions of a court order.

The sentence was worked out between Crown prosecutor Tony Bell and defence lawyer Brad Mulder.

Court heard that between Aug. 21, 2007, and Oct. 31, 2009, de Castro offered properties in Red Deer for sale to alleged victims as an investment opportunity.

Another incident occurred between Oct. 15, 2009, and January 2010.

The victims gave the accused money to purchase properties that she claimed were bank foreclosures.

The properties in question were not for sale during the period.

Judge Bert Skinner said the sentence was within the limit allowed by law.

“In order to stay afloat financially you were like a drowning person dragging other people down with you,” Skinner told the accused.

He said the victim impact statements show the victims were hurt “physically, mentally and financially.”

He said some victims have suffered “strains on their marriages because of your activities.”

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com