Jurors Pay Fines for Undocumented House Cleaner Who Confessed to Jewelry Theft

Sandra Mendez Ortega
Jurors who convicted Sandra Mendez Ortega reportedly saw her as a victim, too.(Fairfax County Sheriff’s Office)

The homeowner was livid.

Jurors who convicted an undocumented immigrant house cleaner for stealing several pieces of jewelry have paid her court-imposed fine.

Sandra Mendez Ortega was convicted of stealing three rings worth $5,000 from a house she was cleaning in Fairfax City, Va..

She later returned the jewelry after police questioned her. She reportedly admitted the theft to her boss and later charged with felony grand larceny and found guilty.

However, the jury imposed just a $60 fine — Ortega's daily pay as a maid — after her tragic life story managed to bring some of them to tears.

Jurors, including foreman Jeffery Memmott, told The Washington Post they thought 19-year-old Ortega had simply made a youthful mistake.

"The general sentiment was she was a victim, too," Memmott said.

Two jurors were even brought to tears and after one of them laid down a $20, others chipped in until the collection totaled $80.

While a story of compassion to some, the woman whose rings — among them her grandmother's engagement ring — were stolen says she's never gotten a personal apology.

“If she had accepted accountability, I would be okay with all of this," victim Lisa Copeland said.

Copeland said she was "flabbergasted" by the decision by the jurors and believes $60 was far too small a fine to impose.

"I just pray that they’re never in my shoes," Copeland said.