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Family Says Trusted Maid Took Them to the Cleaners

Times Staff Writer

It took nearly a year and more than $40,000 in lost clothing, jewelry and household trinkets before the Simpson family of Glendale decided that their maid was really cleaning up.

“I really believed in her,” Jean Simpson said of her maid of 4 1/2 years. “But now I know why the house wasn’t terribly clean.”

After receiving a call from Simpson last month, Glendale police searched the Los Angeles apartment of the maid, Ana Rubidia Guevara, 35, and found more than 500 items belonging to Simpson, her three daughters and her husband, Pasadena prosecutor James Simpson.

Among the goods listed as seized were 60 sweaters, 51 skirts, 50 pairs of shoes, 43 pairs of slacks, 29 blouses, 25 scarfs, 23 belts, 16 packages of unwaxed dental floss, 15 bathing suits and six bottles of nail polish remover.

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Guevara, whom the Simpsons call Ruby, is scheduled to be arraigned Jan. 11 in Glendale Municipal Court on two counts of grand theft. If convicted, she faces up to three years and eight months in prison.

“When we arrived at Ruby’s apartment . . . we had the shock of our lifetime,” said Jean Simpson, an author and teacher. “I was absolutely dumbfounded. She even took my stepdaughter’s contact lenses and my youngest daughter’s (orthodontic) retainers.”

Over the course of the year, Simpson said, she couldn’t help noticing that a few items were missing, such as a diamond cocktail ring--but she thought that she might simply be misplacing things.

Goods in Storage

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A combination of factors made it possible for the possessions to disappear with little notice, she said. Many of the goods, including much of her husband’s clothing and her mother’s fur coat, were in storage boxes tucked away in the garage and guest house.

Moreover, two of her three daughters are in college, where they often take their mother’s clothing.

“We all wear each other’s clothes,” Simpson said. “I would think one had it at one college and another had it at another college.”

Meanwhile, valuable jewelry, Christmas ornaments, plastic dishware, leotards, drill team uniforms, flatware, cameras, bookends, stuffed animals, candles, makeup, cologne, a blender and money disappeared.

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“It was like a nightmare,” Simpson said. “And the sad part is the kids apologizing to each other because they had all accused each other of taking stuff.”

Believed Her Story

A neighbor’s maid once had been arrested for stealing, she said, but she did not suspect her own. Indeed, she said, at the time of that incident, Guevara had commented to her, “You don’t ever have to worry about anything like that happening to you because of Mr. Simpson’s job.”

Her maid seemed more part of the solution than the problem, she said.

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“Whenever I’d tell Ruby I couldn’t find something, it would reappear and she would say, ‘Look what I found, Mrs. Simpson,’ ” Simpson said. “Then I’d say, ‘Fabulous!’ and call her Ruby the Detective.”

The Simpsons got suspicious, however, when Maria Nawrocka, a family friend, moved in with them last May and began complaining of lost possessions.

Boxes of Belongings

They discovered that boxes of Nawrocka’s belongings were missing from the garage, along with crates of James Simpson’s clothing.

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“So we took an inventory of every item in (Nawrocka’s) room and left everything as is,” Simpson said. “And the next night, when Maria got home $6.48, (a) photo album and more clothes were gone.”

Simpson’s husband and a Spanish-speaking prosecutor questioned Guevara, and the maid admitted only that she had taken home Nawrocka’s $450 leather skirt for mending, Simpson said.

“At that point I became furious . . . she had told me she didn’t know how to sew,” the Glendale woman said.

The Simpsons contacted police detectives, who obtained a search warrant for Guevara’s apartment and arrested her.

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“It took them two vans to haul away the stuff and 13 jail trusties to carry it,” Simpson said. “I hope people learn from this. . . . It’s easier to brush your own toilet.”


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