She would deposit company checks into her own account, cops say. Total: Nearly $30K

A bookkeeper for a Florida Keys construction company wrote herself more than 70 checks in a little more than a year, stealing close to $30,000, Monroe County Sheriff’s Office detectives say.

Shonna Sampedro, 41, of Key Largo is in county jail on Plantation Key on a $130,000 bond. Deputies arrested her Monday morning on two counts of larceny and a felony fraud count.

She worked for the Nivar Group, an Upper Keys construction company, since March 2018, according to Detective Benjamin Elmore’s arrest affidavit. In June of that year, a few months after landing the job, she began depositing and/or cashing company checks at her personal bank, Elmore stated.

The checks were written out to “cash” or “petty cash,” and the amounts ranged from $200 to $1,000, according to the arrest report. Sampedro also used a Nivar Group debit card to pay her home’s electric bill for three months, the report states.

Between June 2018 and August 2019, police say Sampedro stole a total of $26,945.55, according to Elmore’s report.

It was the charges to the debit card that tipped Nivar Group owners to the rest of the alleged theft, Elmore wrote in his report.

They confronted Sampedro earlier this month, and she responded that the charges to the company card were a mistake that happened when she was making online payments for Nivar to the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative utility.

Suesette Castellanos, who owns the company with her husband Alfredo, did not believe Sampedro and fired her on Sept. 8.

She called police after she kept digging and noticed money from the company’s Bank of America account was being deposited in an account at Centennial Bank, according to the report.

The owners pre-signed the checks on the front for petty cash purposes, but Sampedro endorsed the back, which she was not authorized to do, Elmore stated.

“We asked Shonna where she banked and she said Centennial Bank,” Elmore wrote. “Shonna did not have a clear answer for why she would cash the business checks at Centennial Bank where the business did not have any accounts.”

David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Before joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, D.C. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.