Judge James H. Shoemake of the 434th District Court sentenced Samia Alam Quddusi of Sugar Land to four years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice – Institutional Division on June 9.
A jury convicted the defendant of felony theft on April 21 after a weeklong trial. The 24-year-old Sugar Land woman stole over $40,000 from her employer in 2014. Quddusi requested the court to determine her punishment and the case was reset to for the judge to consider a presentence investigation report.
According to Assistant District Attorney Abdul Farukhi, Quddusi was hired by a Stafford area company to work as an administrative assistant in June of 2014. Within two months, Quddusi had stolen $42,500 in company funds by writing checks to herself. When confronted by the company president, the defendant admitted to committing the offense and explained she needed the money for school loans and to pay her brother’s bail bonds.
The State presented evidence showing the defendant did attend school, and that her tuition was paid through financial aid grants. Other evidence and testimony revealed that Quddusi purchased a luxury vehicle and used the stolen money to dine out and patronize nail and hair salons. The defense claimed the money Quddusi took was given as a gift, or a loan; however, there was no testimony to support their theory.
During the punishment hearing, the State called the business owner who testified about the incredible stress he was placed under when it was discovered his employee stole $42,500 from the company checking account. He described how his professional reputation and the reputation of the company was at stake due to the offense. He also stated that he lost trust in employees and spent significant time to resolve the matter with the bank and the police.
The defense called three witnesses – the defendant’s sister, mother, and the defendant. Both the defendant’s sister and mother testified to her character and stated that she was an “honest and caring” person despite being aware that she had been convicted of theft and had stolen from a previous employer.
The defendant stated she disagreed with the jury’s verdict and maintained the money was given to her voluntarily. She stated for the first time that she had a special relationship with her employer that allowed for her to get large sums of money in a short period of time. When pressed for details regarding that relationship as well as for the dates the checks were given to her, she stated could not remember the specific details.
The defendant did admit she had credibility issues due to her past criminal history. She also acknowledged that she had lied on her resume both before and after the offense. When asked about what she did with the stolen funds, the defendant stated she spent or loaned about $20,000 of the $42,500 but could not account for or remember what happened to the remainder.
Prior to imposing the sentence, Judge Shoemake stated that despite Quddusi’s claims that the money was given to her, he believed the defendant did commit the theft. Judge Shoemake also stated that he did not believe she was a good candidate for probation because of her prior history and because she demonstrated through the evidence and testimony a lack of understanding the importance of being truthful and honest.
Theft in this case was a third-degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000. Quddusi was probation eligible.
Assistant district attorneys Farukhi and Grayson Miller prosecuted the case. Attorneys Eddrea McKnight and Alfonso Anderson represented the defendant.