Courier staff writer
ALAMOSA — A woman who stole merchandise from Walmart with the help of a store employee pleaded guilty this month to felony and misdemeanor theft.
In exchange for Lorie Ann Nieto’s pleas, the district attorney’s office dismissed an additional charge of conspiracy to commit theft; it will also recommend a deferred sentence of two years.
Authorities arrested the 27-year-old Nieto in June, after the big-box retailer’s security team informed police that she and other women allegedly conspired to steal just under $1,700 in merchandise from the store.
The Alamosa Police Department subsequently recovered two shopping carts full of stolen goods, including food, clothing, household items and hygiene products.
After a two-day investigation, Nieto and five other women were arrested on theft-related charges.
Each of them later submitted written statements in which they allegedly confessed to their involvement in the crime. Police say the women also acknowledged that it was not the first time they’d stolen from the store.
Suspect Julia Bailon, 55, told a police officer that a Walmart employee she identified as Laura Maul let them know ahead of time when the store’s “loss prevention” staff members were not on duty. (63-year-old Leokadija Maul was one of the women who was arrested on June 28.)
In exchange for that information, Maul allegedly asked them to stock up on items for herself, according to a statement from 37-year-old suspect Tara Bailon.
Once their shopping carts were full, authorities say the women pushed them to the store’s housewares section, where they bagged the items to make it look like they’d purchased them. They reportedly hid other merchandise inside shoeboxes and plastic totes, according to a police report.
Other suspects who were allegedly involved in the Walmart theft ring include 25-year-old Jessica Bailon and 45-year-old Michelle Felice Martinez.
Nieto’s sentencing hearing is currently set for Feb. 12.