A Miami, Florida, model was set free during sentencing after being arrested for helping her ex-boyfriend defraud credit card companies and steal the identities of senior citizens.
Patricia Perez Gonzalez was arrested in 2016 for identity theft and accumulating $2 million in debt on 40 different Amex Platinum cards. Perez-Gonzalez pleaded guilty to charges of grand larceny in the fourth degree, and was ultimately set free because she had never before been in trouble with the law.
The 26-year-old was arrested along with her ex-boyfriend, 31-year-old Alberto Companioni, after authorities searched her Miami condo and found luxury items including Chanel and Hermes handbags, Rolex watches and Apple electronic devices. There were also documents and other evidence of trips to Hawaii, California and New York, the Miami Herald reported.
A press release obtained by the Daily Mail detailed the specifics of the items found at several addresses in Miami that were linked to the couple.
The items found included “dozens of credit cards in victims' names ... forged identification and licenses, a credit card encoder, blank credit cards, more than ten phones labeled in victims' names and merchandise purchased with the fraudulent American Express cards, including a Rolex watch, racing bikes, ski gear, Chanel bags and other designer clothing and accessories.”
The couple defrauded the credit card companies at the expense of senior citizens for two years, dining at fancy restaurants and partying at high-end clubs.
The couple reportedly used the internet to get information about the senior citizens whose identities they stole.
Companioni has not been sentenced yet, but faces up to six years in prison. Perez-Gonzalez argued in court that since her crimes, she has followed a better path and become a straight-A student in college. The judge ultimately agreed.
“I don’t anticipate I or any other judge will ever see you again,” the judge said.
The couple appeared in court in April of 2016 while awaiting sentencing, and notably looked disheveled -- nothing like the glamorous pair they appeared to be in social media shots from years prior.
“I don’t think jail is a pleasant experience for anyone,” Perez-Gonzalez’s lawyer, John Pappalardo, told the New York Post at the time.
Perez-Gonzalez was a bikini model who often posted photos of herself to Twitter and participated in Maxim Magazine’s “#HotPicAtNoon” feed.
Many readers questioned how the young woman could possibly have gotten off so easily, considering the seriousness of her crime.
“How the hell does THAT happen? Commits larceny and doesn't get even a slap on the wrist? Oh, that's right. Because she's pretty. Throw that judge in the clink!” one Miami Herald reader commented.
Sources: New York Post, Miami Herald, Daily Mail / Photo credit: Miami Herald, Oregon Department of Transportation/Wikimedia Commons