Crime - Sacto 911

Woman allegedly feigned suicide to avoid prison

A woman who allegedly sought to avoid prison by feigning suicide has been indicted by a federal grand jury for failing to surrender to serve a sentence and obstructing justice.

Maria Santa, 41, appeared for arraignment Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, along with her husband, Virgil Santa, 43, who was charged with harboring a fugitive, according to a U.S. attorney’s office news release.

Maria Santa, a Sacramento County resident, was previously sentenced to 20 months in prison for mortgage fraud and was ordered to begin serving her sentence in February 2014, according to court documents. When her motion for bail pending appeal was denied, she fled the jurisdiction and left a note at her home that made it appear she had committed suicide.

Maria Santa was arrested Aug. 26 in Sacramento. At the time, she was a passenger in a vehicle that her husband was driving, authorities said.

If convicted, Maria and Virgil Santa face a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy