Eden Prairie woman charged in million dollar embezzlement

Thursday, January 15, 2015

An Eden Prairie woman made her first court appearance Thursday on eight counts of theft by swindle from the property management company where she worked. She is suspected of stealing $1.3 million.

Stephanie Castillo, 42, agreed to all the conditions requested by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office and ordered by Hennepin County District Court Judge Gary Larson. Those conditions were bail of $300,000, surrender of her passport, a waiver of extradition in case she fled to another state and an order that she not leave Minnesota without court permission. She made bail and is out of jail.

According to the criminal complaint, Castillo started working at Balderson Management Co. of Golden Valley in 2009. The company, which is owned by Castillo's mother, Cynthia Balderson, is a property management company for commercial properties. The companies that owned the properties would hire Balderson to handle leasing and maintenance of the properties.

Beginning in 2010, Castillo began inventing invoices for services such as snow removal. Then, using the checkbooks of the property owners, she would make out the check to herself and forge her mother's signature, according to the complaint. Unless someone looked at the actual check, it would appear that a check was written to a legitimate company.

One of the property owners became suspicious in September 2014 and did review the checks. He then called Golden Valley police to investigate. When confronted by police, Castillo said she spent about half of the money on her shopping addiction and sent the other half to her husband who was starting a business in Mexico.

Castillo's next appearance is scheduled for Feb. 17.

Castillo Criminal Complaint (PDF)