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10:55 AM Thu, Jan. 17th

Pair in money-for-sex-change case likely to serve little time

PRESCOTT - Two people accused of stealing $45,000 from a Wal-Mart to pay for a sex change operation and a car were in court Monday.

In September, Prescott police arrested two Wal-Mart employees, Spencer Danger Cullen, 24, and Adriano Valdes Altiveros, 19, on charges of planning, over a period of weeks, to commit the burglary, and then taking the money, said Prescott police spokesman Lt. Andy Reinhardt.

The pair had used a key to get into a locked cash office and take $45,000, Reinhardt said, adding that Altiveros distracted cashiers while Cullen stole the cash. The pair wanted to buy a car and pay for a sex-change operation for Cullen.

By the time police checked surveillance video and figured out who their suspects were, and then made arrests, the suspects already bought a car for $22,000 and "numerous clothing items," Reinhardt said.

Monday afternoon, Yavapai County Superior Court Judge Cele Hancock told Cullen, who appeared in court with a very different appearance - short-cropped black hair instead of the long blond hair she had when arrested - she could get prison time, as long as eight years, for accepting a deal and pleading guilty.

However, Deputy County Attorney Jeff Paupore recommended six months jail time plus probation if she agreed to the deal.

Cullen pleaded guilty to one count of theft and a second count of burglary. She will be sentenced in January.

Altiveros is looking at five felonies: conspiracy to commit theft; theft; burglary; trafficking in stolen property; and a conspiracy to commit burglary charge. He's been offered a deal to plead guilty to one count of burglary and one count of trafficking in return for a lesser sentence.

Hancock told him that he could be sentenced to more than 53 years in prison if he goes to trial and loses, but he could get minimal jail time plus probation if he takes the deal.

The prosecution agreed to give him some time to make a decision. His next appearance is Jan. 3.

Hancock left the question of restitution open; although the pair will have to pay Wal-Mart back, the store has not given the court an exact amount yet.