Paroled housekeeper nabbed second time for bilking pay 

Make sure your cleaning lady isn’t taking you to the cleaners.

That’s the warning from police after a housekeeper took liberties with her employers’ checkbook, bilking thousands of dollars from a San Carlos couple while also cashing the $70 payment she received per visit — and doing so shortly after she had served jail time for altering the checks of a Half Moon Bay couple whose home she cleaned, prosecutors said.

Eloisa Diaz, 58, pleaded no contest Tuesday to writing 52 checks to herself that belonged to the married San Carlos couple during a 3½-year period, according to San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

“These were small checks; they weren’t four- or five-figure amounts,” Wagstaffe said. “It just added up.”

Diaz was hired to clean the couple’s home once a week for $70 per job. But she apparently thought she was worth twice that, since the 52 checks she wrote to herself were for $70 apiece, Wagstaffe said.

All told, Diaz, who was charged with 111 felony counts of theft and forgery, netted $3,640 before the couple noticed the unauthorized checks in their bank records.

Diaz wasn’t new to the scam. She’s already a convicted felon for being an untrustworthy housekeeper at a Half Moon Bay residence, where she altered payment checks to the tune of $1,180 between 2007 and 2008, prosecutors said. While on probation for that crime, she was stealing from the San Carlos couple, according to prosecutors.

The case has prompted authorities to advise residents to regularly check their bank statements to make certain all charges are
warranted.

“It really pays to check your statement on a monthly basis,” San Carlos police Cmdr. Greg Hart said.

Also, the case highlights another important lesson about knowing who to trust in your home, Hart said. As many homeowners have done, the San Carlos couple met and hired Diaz through a friend, prosecutors said.

“If you’re hiring somebody off the street or by word of mouth, you have no way of knowing [their background],” Hart said.

Another problem being raised by the Diaz case is that the consequences for this brand of crime are less severe due to prison overcrowding in California, and thus there is more incentive for criminals, Wagstaffe said.

Diaz received 60 days in jail for her first spate of check thefts. When she’s sentenced for robbing the San Carlos couple Aug. 6, she faces no more than 16 months in jail due to a plea bargain, Wagstaffe said. When all is said and done, she will likely only serve eight months, he said.

“For theft crimes, not many go to prison,” Wagstaffe said. “Unlike 30 years ago ... you would automatically go to prison.”
Without the plea bargain, the maximum penalty would be a four-year prison term.

maldax@sfexaminer.com


Cleaning up


Eloisa Diaz pleaded no contest Tuesday to charges regarding writing checks to herself from a San Carlos couple’s account.

$70 Amount paid per visit (once a week)
52 Extra $70 checks Diaz wrote from employer
111 Felony counts
Years in which Diaz worked for San Carlos couple
$3,640 Amount she took from couple
60 Days spent in jail for prior check theft conviction
16 Months expected sentence for no contest plea

Source: San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office

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