California siblings plead guilty to stealing 800 MacBooks worth $2.3 million

Posted:
in General Discussion
A pair of California siblings who stole roughly 800 MacBooks over seven years, totaling over $2.3 million in retail value, have pleaded guilty to federal offenses relating to the crime.




Patricia Castaneda worked in the School of Humanities and Sciences at a private university in Stanford. During her time at the university, she was responsible for ordering MacBooks for its faculty and staff.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, she began stealing and selling MacBooks she ordered for cash in 2009 or 2010. Initially, Castaneda sold them to an individual she met over Facebook.

In 2016, she began giving the MacBooks to her brother, Eric Castaneda, who would transport them to an individual in Folsom, who resold the MacBooks to buyers outside California.

In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total.

Patricia Castaneda pleaded guilty to federal program theft, and in a separate case, her brother pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property interstate.

U.S. district judge Kimberly J. Mueller is set to sentence the pair on June 7. Patricia Castaneda will face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Eric Castaneda faces a maximum of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

In November of 2020, thieves hijacked a truck in England carrying over 48 pallets of Apple products, totaling $6 million in retail value.

Also in November, a group of five Amazon employees was arrested for stealing iPhones from a logistics center in Madrid, Spain. The retail value was believed to be nearly $600,000.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,465member
    In addition to the fine, will they be responsible for reimbursing the school?  I couldn't find any mention on that.  
    fahlmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    Just to be clear, there is only one “private university in Stanford” — Stanford University. I guess there are legal reasons why the university isn’t named. According to a Wikipedia, much of the university isn’t, technically, in Palo Alto — it’s in an unincorporated area, designated “Stanford.”
    red oak
  • Reply 3 of 16
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 870member
    sflocal said:
    In addition to the fine, will they be responsible for reimbursing the school?  I couldn't find any mention on that.  
    Isn't it kind of moot? Stealing $2.3m worth of laptops doesn't mean they're sitting on $2.3 million dollars, stolen goods sell for a fraction of retail prices. After legal fees, maybe sitting on a couple hundred thousand dollars… if the courts say "okay now you owe four million dollars" in ten years, well where's that money going to come from? A lifetime of debt and servitude? No, the university is going to take a wash on it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,218member
    How did they get away with it for so long and how were they caught?  
    ravnorodomronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,465member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    sflocal said:
    In addition to the fine, will they be responsible for reimbursing the school?  I couldn't find any mention on that.  
    Isn't it kind of moot? Stealing $2.3m worth of laptops doesn't mean they're sitting on $2.3 million dollars, stolen goods sell for a fraction of retail prices. After legal fees, maybe sitting on a couple hundred thousand dollars… if the courts say "okay now you owe four million dollars" in ten years, well where's that money going to come from? A lifetime of debt and servitude? No, the university is going to take a wash on it.
    Not really... a while back, a CEO/Founder friend of mine caught his CFO embezzling money from him for years.  Was jailed for a few years and in addition to a fine, was ordered to pay back all the money he stole.  The miscreant is broke, but nonetheless, he's on the hook for all that money.  Any job he gets, it will be garnished.  My friend know's he'll never see all the money, but it's more the principal.  So no, it's not moot.  I'd rather the cloud of debt hover over these thieves than not.

    I would expect the same from these Apple thieves.  It's irrelevant if they don't have any of the money they made selling the stolen laptops.  They should be responsible for the full retail price of each and every MacBook that was stolen, not the value they sold it at.
    edited March 22 fahlmanronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,465member
    MacPro said:
    How did they get away with it for so long and how were they caught?  
    This Stanford Review article about the theft might shed some light.  Apparently, they were able to get away with it for so long because - as usual - the bloated budget and lack of accountability and process-review gave the thieves the opportunity they needed to essentially hide the thefts in plain view.

    ronnwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 16
    AI states, "In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total."  If the retail value is $2.3 million, then how/why did this cost the university $1.7 million more than the laptops were worth?  I thought only the military was stupid enough to pay $10,000 for a toilet seat cover.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    DAalsethDAalseth Posts: 1,449member
    SSD1400 said:
    AI states, "In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total."  If the retail value is $2.3 million, then how/why did this cost the university $1.7 million more than the laptops were worth?  I thought only the military was stupid enough to pay $10,000 for a toilet seat cover.
    I’d guess the original price plus the ones they had to buy again to replace the stolen ones.
    fahlmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    SSD1400 said:
    AI states, "In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total."  If the retail value is $2.3 million, then how/why did this cost the university $1.7 million more than the laptops were worth?  I thought only the military was stupid enough to pay $10,000 for a toilet seat cover.
    Administrative overhead
    SSD1400watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 16
    sflocal said:
    Eric_WVGG said:
    sflocal said:
    In addition to the fine, will they be responsible for reimbursing the school?  I couldn't find any mention on that.  
    Isn't it kind of moot? Stealing $2.3m worth of laptops doesn't mean they're sitting on $2.3 million dollars, stolen goods sell for a fraction of retail prices. After legal fees, maybe sitting on a couple hundred thousand dollars… if the courts say "okay now you owe four million dollars" in ten years, well where's that money going to come from? A lifetime of debt and servitude? No, the university is going to take a wash on it.
    Not really... a while back, a CEO/Founder friend of mine caught his CFO embezzling money from him for years.  Was jailed for a few years and in addition to a fine, was ordered to pay back all the money he stole.  The miscreant is broke, but nonetheless, he's on the hook for all that money.  Any job he gets, it will be garnished.  My friend know's he'll never see all the money, but it's more the principal.  So no, it's not moot.  I'd rather the cloud of debt hover over these thieves than not.

    I would expect the same from these Apple thieves.  It's irrelevant if they don't have any of the money they made selling the stolen laptops.  They should be responsible for the full retail price of each and every MacBook that was stolen, not the value they sold it at.
    Alright, well we're on the same page re: the university, they're fucked and will never get their money back. The question I have is, what exactly are we looking for out of punishment? Ten years in prison is a LONG FUCKING TIME. Even five years is just unfathomable. What are we actually trying to get out of condemning a person to a lifetime of poverty on top of all those years in prison? At a certain point, it's just institutional sadism.

    And before anyone says "this will be a warning to others who might steal shit," if that was effective, then it would have worked and these guys wouldn't have stolen those laptops in the first place, so no, that's pointless.
    drdavidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,465member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    Alright, well we're on the same page re: the university, they're fucked and will never get their money back. The question I have is, what exactly are we looking for out of punishment? Ten years in prison is a LONG FUCKING TIME. Even five years is just unfathomable. What are we actually trying to get out of condemning a person to a lifetime of poverty on top of all those years in prison? At a certain point, it's just institutional sadism.

    And before anyone says "this will be a warning to others who might steal shit," if that was effective, then it would have worked and these guys wouldn't have stolen those laptops in the first place, so no, that's pointless.
    I never understood the rationale for dismissing consequences for adults.  Yes, ten years is a long time, but even though the criminal may not have the money, they definitely have the TIME to give up for their crime.  That it was some multi-billion dollar institution is irrelevant.  You may not think it will deter people, but I would bet that people in this criminal's circle that think about following the same path will give pause to contemplate.  That it may be a "lifetime of poverty" is a consequence the criminal chose to accept.  I will not lose a wink of sleep over it. 
    muthuk_vanalingamfahlmanwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    Eric_WVGGEric_WVGG Posts: 870member
    sflocal said:

    You may not think it will deter people, but I would bet that people in this criminal's circle that think about following the same path will give pause to contemplate.
    Again, I ask: if you think that is a good deterrent, then why didn't the countless other cases of people getting decades behind bars deter these two from their crime? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    kenckenc Posts: 195member
    SSD1400 said:
    AI states, "In one decade, the two had managed to steal over $2.3 million in retail value, which cost the university more than $4 million in total."  If the retail value is $2.3 million, then how/why did this cost the university $1.7 million more than the laptops were worth?  I thought only the military was stupid enough to pay $10,000 for a toilet seat cover.
    University computer for staff, probably comes with a service contract and software.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    Eric_WVGG said:
    sflocal said:

    You may not think it will deter people, but I would bet that people in this criminal's circle that think about following the same path will give pause to contemplate.
    Again, I ask: if you think that is a good deterrent, then why didn't the countless other cases of people getting decades behind bars deter these two from their crime? 
    Well, going by your logic - ALL criminal laws NEED to be scrapped completely by ALL countries, since they have NOT prevented crimes from happening, isn't it? So what do you suggest? No criminal laws, people can do ANYTHING that they want, like in good old stone-age days?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,465member
    Eric_WVGG said:
    sflocal said:
    You may not think it will deter people, but I would bet that people in this criminal's circle that think about following the same path will give pause to contemplate.
    Again, I ask: if you think that is a good deterrent, then why didn't the countless other cases of people getting decades behind bars deter these two from their crime? 

    You're only focusing on those that HAVE committed crimes.  How would one know about crimes that never happened?  I've personally known people that went to prison.  Seeing what happened to them and the post-prison consequences certainly deters ME from turning to a life of crime.  Where's my newspaper piece?

    You're just grandstanding.  Is your belief that since crime continues in a society of laws, we should simply scrap laws and allow people to do what they please?  Look at the mess San Francisco is in.  Criminals get a revolving door because they aren't prosecuted and go right back to committing the same crimes.  That's what you're saying should happen for everyone else?

    Or maybe what you're implying is if these laws aren't deterring crime, maybe we should elevate the consequences?  That I would certainly agree with.
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.