It’s been nearly nine months since an Arizona woman was put on trial for selling counterfeit coupons, after picking the worst possible potential customer to sell to. Then she made perhaps the worst possible decision just ahead of her guilty verdict, by vanishing. Now, she’s been located, and has been slapped with the worst possible punishment – a whole heck of a lot of prison time.

42-year-old Christina Pacheco of Glendale, Arizona has been sentenced to serve 15 years and 9 months in prison, for selling fake fundraising coupon books door-to-door and claiming the proceeds were for charity – when they were really for her.

Police said Pacheco created the books, which were filled with coupons for local businesses. But none of the businesses had actually authorized the coupons. Nor did the organization Students Against Destructive Decisions have anything to do with the books that she sold in its name.

Pacheco recruited local teens to help her help SADD, by selling the coupon books around the Phoenix area and calling the whole endeavor a fundraiser.

A fundraiser for Pacheco, as it turned out. None of the money actually went to SADD. The teens got to keep a small cut of the proceeds, but Pacheco kept the rest.

When her scam was discovered nearly three years ago, police said she had more than 80 coupon books with her. With each one selling for $20 apiece, she could have made $1,600 that day alone – if she hadn’t been caught red-handed.

And oh, was she caught red-handed.


One January day in 2014, while Pacheco waited in a nearby car, a teen rang the doorbell of a woman named Jessica Smith – the one person in the world who was not about to believe that these coupon books were raising any money for SADD.

That’s because Smith just happened to be the Arizona Director of SADD. If coupon books were being sold on her organization’s behalf, she would know. Smith and Pacheco ended up exchanging words, police were called – and Pacheco was somehow let off with a warning, after promising not to sell the coupon books again.

And she promptly began selling the coupon books again.

Within a month, as local businesses began seeing customers show up with fake coupons, someone called police to report they had been sold a fake coupon book. Police traced the coupons back to Pacheco, and this time, she was arrested on charges of participating in a criminal syndicate, fraudulent schemes, identity theft and forgery.

Her trial began in March of this year. It ended in multiple guilty verdicts, but Pacheco didn’t show up in court to learn her fate, so the judge issued a bench warrant for her arrest. She ultimately showed up eight months later, turning herself in just last month.

“The State does not know where the defendant was during the time she failed to appear at the verdict to the time she turned herself in,” a spokesperson with the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office told Coupons in the News.

The judge, who had earlier found that “no reasonable cause has been presented for the Defendant’s failure to appear” at the reading of her verdict, sentenced her to six concurrent prison terms. The longest penalty was for participating in a criminal syndicate, for which she was sentenced to 15.75 years in prison. Sentences for the other counts, which ranged from 10 years to 11.5 years, will be served at the same time.

“This defendant preyed on the kindness and trust of others and today’s sentence of incarceration should serve as notice that we take these crimes seriously,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement. “This defendant not only defrauded and hurt the reputations of local businesses and a charity, but she also enlisted the help of unsuspecting teens to mask her criminal actions.”

SADD may not have gotten any money from Pacheco’s scheme. But all is not lost – it turns out she may have taught teens a lesson about the consequences of making destructive decisions after all.

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