Woman Pleads Guilty in ‘Total Identity Theft’ Case

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) An illegal immigrant charged with assuming the persona of a Texas teacher has struck a deal with federal prosecutors in Kansas in a case that put a face on the crime of “total identity theft.”

Thirty-two-year-old Benita Cardona-Gonzalez, a Mexican national living in Topeka, pleaded guilty Monday to a reduced charge of possessing fraudulent identification documents.

Cardona-Gonzalez was accused of completely assuming the persona of Houston elementary school teacher Candida Gutierrez, who first went public in a story by The Associated Press.

Prosecutors agreed to recommend an 18-month prison term when Cardona-Gonzalez is sentenced in march. Cardona-Gonzalez agreed not to contest deportation after serving her sentence.

Defense lawyer Matthew Works said after Monday’s hearing Wichita that his client is sorry and didn’t intend to harm Gutierrez.