New Mexico – Alejandro MM Opalez, the United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced that Sandra Roberto has been sentenced to four years and three months in prison for electronic fraud and false and fraudulent tax returns. Roberto, 44, of Las Cruces, New Mexico, pleaded guilty on January 29.
According to a plea agreement and other court records, Roberto began working for Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) in 2009, first as a fuel clerk and then in the accounting office. Beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2018, he used his position to embezzle approximately $1,130,215 USD from MVT.
The company used third-party payment processors Comdata and EFS, with Roberto being MVT’s primary contact. Roberto loaded cash advances onto debit cards used by MVT drivers, then contacted Comdata or EFS to obtain authorization codes to withdraw additional funds from the cards. Roberto will then use the blank checks obtained from Comdata or EFS, enter the authorization codes, and deposit the funds directly into his own bank account. From 2011 to 2018, Roberto deposited 1,735 such checks. Roberto used the money for personal expenses such as car rentals, purchases, flights, hotel accommodations, and other items.
MVT discovered Roberto’s embezzlement during an annual financial settlement in January 2018. When confronted, Roberto admitted to the embezzlement and was fired from her position.
In the plea agreement, Roberto admitted that he intentionally failed to report any of the illegally embezzled funds as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For example, for 2017, Roberto embezzled $260,705 from his MVT, but reported income of only $31,932. The amount of Roberto’s additional tax due from 2013 to 2018 is $250,473.
Upon his release from prison, Roberto will undergo three years of supervised release. In addition, you have agreed to pay compensation to the MVT in the amount of $1,130,215 and to the IRS in the amount of $250,473, for a total of $1,380,688.
The Las Cruces based agency of the FBI Albuquerque field office and the IRS Criminal Investigation investigated the case. Assistant US Attorney Ray Ellison and Richard Williams brought the case.
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