10-year sentence for theft of elderly woman's savings

Bryson Miguel Cendejas

More than two weeks after pleading guilty to the felony theft of an elderly woman’s life savings, a Nederland man learned he will serve hard time after his original plea deal was scrapped by a Jefferson County judge.

Bryson Miguel Cendejas, 27, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury April 19, 2012, for felony theft.

According to a probable cause affidavit obtained by The Examiner, in April 2010, Laura Murphy Hovsepian of California contacted Cendejas, owner of Golden Triangle Associates in Nederland, to help her sell her gold and platinum coin collection. 

According to the affidavit, the coins were purchased for $176,803 and represented Ms. Hovsepian’s entire life savings.

In July 2010, Cendejas began sending cashier’s checks and money orders for a total payout of $16,549, the affidavit said.

Hovsepian demanded Cendejas return the coin collection in January 2011. Cendejas acknowledged the demand by phone, according to the affidavit, and told Hovsepian he would ship the coins back as soon as possible.

No coins were ever shipped back to Hovsepian.

On Monday, Nov. 18, Stevens scrapped Cendejas’ original plea deal of 10 years probation, calling the plea “a bad deal” and saying he wasn’t going to accept such a punishment for such a crime.

“She has lost a lot,” Stevens said of Hovsepian’s life savings. “At 84, how is she supposed to start over?”

Cendejas’ defense argued that his client was ready to start working and paying restitution for the case, amounting to $176,803 with monthly payments of $1,700, if he were to be put on probation.

The state’s prosecutor agreed, saying she had spoken to the victim, Ms. Hovsepian, who pushed for probation so that she might at least be paid back some portion of her life savings.

But Stevens couldn’t stomach the thought of Cendejas walking free.

“The defendant should not be able to hold the victim hostage,” Stevens said before Cendejas entered another guilty plea and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

As to where the almost $200,000 went, Cendejas said the money went to his business which fell apart soon after he acquired the gold and platinum coins.

“It certainly fell apart for the 84-year-old woman,” Stevens said. “She doesn’t have a lot of life left to get this money back to enjoy it.”