• Woman charged with stealing nearly $500K from employer


    The first time Sandra Villarroel met Valencia Coopersmith was on one of the happiest days of her life.

    It was for Coopersmith's engagement at Point State Park, and Villarroel was her photographer.

    "The proposal went forward and I shot it and the pictures turned out really cute,” Villarroel said.


    She later shot several receptions for Coopersmith, as well. But a few months ago, she got a call from investigators saying the money she was paid was stolen by Coopersmith.

    While working for Apogee Environmental, police sources tell Channel 11 Coopersmith stole nearly $500,000 from the company, buying items ranging from a car to vacations, and even paying for a wedding.

    Villarroel says she lost several thousand dollars from the scheme.

    “I considered them my friends and to see somebody had ruined their lives in this way, it really affected me emotionally a lot,” she said.

    Channel 11 spoke with Valencia Coopersmith to get her side of the story. She tells us the money she's accused of stealing is significantly less than $500,000 and she's taking steps to pay the money back.

    The company she worked for also declined to comment.

    Despite the felony charges, Villarroel knows she will likely never see the money she's owed. But instead of being angry or bitter, she's forgiving Coopersmith.

    "I'm sorry for her. I know she's struggling right now,” Villarroel said. “Even though she hurt me, if there's anything I can do to help her, I'm here, I'm here for her."


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