Lawyers Trot Out ‘Uncle Leo Defense’ for Thieving Saks Saleswoman

The scene of the crime. Photo: Getty Images

Remember how when Uncle Leo on Seinfeld got caught stealing books from Brentano's his excuse was, "I'm an old man. I'm confused! I thought I paid for it." It sort of sounds like that's the defense that lawyers for Cecille Villacorta, a fabulous 51-year-old Saks jewelry-counter worker are preparing for her. Saks says Villacorta, their highest-grossing saleswoman, had a system: If a favored customer purchased an expensive piece of jewelry, she'd charge the full price, take the commission — and then give the customer a partial refund later. She did it with at least 229 people, they claim, and over 26 years managed to sock away close to a $1 million. But Villacorta's lawyer Chad Seigel says she was merely confused: Giving price breaks to repeat customers is "common" at Saks, he told the Post, but Villacorta just didn't know which transaction code to use, since, he added, "there was really no system for making the kind of legitimate accommodations she was making." Gee, that really is confusing. Or not. Maybe next Siegal could try, "It's not stealing if you need it."

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