BLYTHE, Calif. - A former Farmers Insurance employee in Blythe was facing criminal charges today for allegedly stealing clients' premium money. Christina Guadalupe Bustamante, 36, was charged Wednesday with one count of grand theft and 19 counts of hiding facts affecting the right to insurance benefits, all felonies. She is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in Blythe, according to court records.
On May 6, 2012, an employee at the local Farmers Insurance office told Blythe police that a former office worker identified as Bustamante had been collecting money for insurance premiums but keeping the payments, Blythe police Lt. Robert Mathews said. After Bustamante quit, ``numerous'' customers reported getting delinquency notices. According to Farmers management, Bustamante received funds from more than 20 clients, Mathews said.
The case was turned over to prosecutors in the Riverside County District Attorney's Office in October 2012, and investigators with the District Attorney's office arrested Bustamante Sept. 4, he said.
After the District Attorney's Office got the case from police, they started their own investigation, ``which took some time given the type of crimes alleged and the fact we had numerous victims and/or witnesses to contact and interview before making a filing decision,'' spokesman John Hall said. Bustamante posted a $5,000 bond and was released shortly after her arrest, according to jail records.