A federal grand jury recently indicted two former trucking employees of MH Group, alleging the pair orchestrated an elaborate wire fraud scheme to defraud the Eagle Pass, Texas-based carrier out of approximately $1.4 million.
Dina Maldonado Morales, 42, and Laura Ballesteros Haby, 52, both of Eagle Pass, were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of wire fraud and aiding and abetting wire fraud last week in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.
According to the indictment, Morales was hired in April 2015 as the dispatcher and operations supervisor for MH Group. Haby, who was hired in 2014, served as the payroll and accounts receivable manager of the cross-border trucking company.
The indictment alleges that from July 2017 through April 2019, Morales and Haby used their positions to divert around $1.4 million in company funds to their personal bank accounts. Prosecutors claim Morales obtained printed checks for her personal checking account that “falsely and fraudulently represented that the checking account belonged to MH Group.”
Court filings state that Morales and Haby signed nondisclosure agreements with MH Group in 2017 as both had access to the company’s confidential business records and financial information. Both also had access to the company’s internal computer database and email system, which were based in Mexico.
While Morales already had a work email account, she requested and obtained an unauthorized second email address from MH Group’s IT department, headquartered in Mexico, which was used to “further their scheme to defraud and harm MH Group,” according to the indictment.
Court documents state that Morales falsely claimed to be the owner of MH Group and used the trucking company’s drivers, equipment and fuel to transport goods in the U.S. and Mexico. After the work was completed, the indictment alleges that Morales and Haby submitted or caused others to submit billing invoices to the shippers directing payments to be deposited into their personal accounts.
After receiving payment for the loads, federal prosecutors allege, Morales accessed MH Group’s server database “and attempted to delete electronic evidence of loads completed by MH Group’s drivers.”
The Texas secretary of state’s business entity website lists Bernardo Mendoza as the director of MH Group, which has 20 power units and 15 drivers, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s SAFER website.
MH Group obtained its operating authority in 2004, hauling cross-border freight, according to FMCSA. The company’s operating authority, which was reinstated in February, had previously been involuntarily revoked four times — in 2005, 2007, 2021 and 2022.
As of publication, Alberto M. Ramon, listed as Haby’s attorney, had not responded to FreightWaves’ request for comment. No attorney is listed for Morales in court filings.
Morales and Haby’s arraignments are scheduled for June 15 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Collis White.
If convicted, Morales and Haby each face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charge and 20 years in prison on the three wire fraud and aiding and abetting counts, according to a Department of Justice release.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Rex Beasley and Izaak Bruce are prosecuting the case. The investigation is being conducted by Homeland Security Investigations.