Phony SureWest employee pleads guilty to fraud

Roseville man faces 10-plus years
By: Nathan Donato-Weinstein |
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On his Facebook page, Roseville resident Preston Vandeburgh claimed to work “long hours at SureWest,” where he said he was an information security manager from June 2000 to the present. But authorities say that was a lie – and that the 27-year-old, over a period of about six months, actually impersonated SureWest employees, so he could break into the company and take a credit card, access company computers, obtain confidential information and even take a company car – a Chevrolet Impala – out for a spin. On Tuesday, Vandeburgh pleaded guilty in Placer County Superior Court to felony charges connected with the case. The plea agreement reached with prosecutors comes five months after Roseville Police arrested Vandeburgh at a friend’s home. SureWest officials had contacted the police when they detected someone using one of their computers at an address in the city, according to a news release from the Placer County District Attorney’s Office. When police arrived, they found Vandeburgh using the computer, the release stated, as well as numerous SureWest items taken during a burglary. SureWest’s monetary loss was not large, but the brazenness of the crimes concerned prosecutors. “All these things mount up,” Prosecutor Rich Opich said. SureWest Spokesman Ron Rogers said computer data access was limited. “When this situation initially took place, we completed a detailed scan and inspection of our systems, specifically pertaining to all customer and employee data, and confirmed that SureWest’s state-of-the-art preventative security measures prohibited access to our systems,” he said. “No customer or employee information was accessed and there was no damage to our network. These security measures were also instrumental in helping lead police to the arrest.” Vandeburgh pleaded guilty to charges including burglary, identity theft, computer crimes and the unlawful taking of a vehicle. Those charges will carry higher penalties because Vandeburgh also admitted to having a previous strike for residential burglary and of having served a prior prison sentence, both in Sacramento County. Placer County Superior Court Judge Robert P. McElhany has scheduled Vandeburgh for sentencing on June 30. He faces a possible 10-year, four-month prison term. Sixteen other charges were dismissed as part of the agreement.