Shoplifter gets two years in prison

2013-09-30T16:30:00Z 2013-09-30T20:56:04Z Shoplifter gets two years in prisonBy Patrick McNamara Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

A Tucson woman who was part of an organized shoplifting crew was sentenced to two years in prison on Monday.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Brenden Griffin sentenced Karina Ortiz on three counts of organized retail theft.

Ortiz, 27, who pleaded guilty to the charges in August, was given two years in prison on each charge. The sentences will be served concurrently.

She and four other women were arrested in December after a Tucson Police Department investigation found the group was responsible for numerous thefts of cosmetics and jewelry from area stores.

The women were accused in as many as 30 shoplifting incidents at CVS, Safeway, Walgreens, Ross and Charming Charlie.

Deputy Pima County Attorney Benjamin Mendola said the restitution amount the county would seek totals more than $74,000.

Defense Attorney Steven D. West said his client was only a small player in a large and organized shoplifting organization.

“They just used my client,” West said.

He said Ortiz essentially worked as an employee for the organization, which warehoused more than 1,000 shoplifted items. The goods were later sold at places such as the Tanque Verde Swap Meet, West said.

Mendola said the county attorney was willing to reduce the restitution amount if the stolen items were released from evidence and returned to the retailers where they could be sold.

He noted the items likely wouldn’t fetch the same retail prices because of their age — nearly a year old at this point.

Mendola said three other defendants accepted plea agreements; however, one defendant fled and is thought to be in Mexico.

He said the County Attorney’s Office would schedule meetings with the remaining defendants’ attorneys to discuss releasing the shoplifted items from evidence and return the products to the retailers.

Contact reporter Patrick McNamara at 573-4241 or pmcnamara@azstarnet.com. On Twitter @pm929.

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