A former accounting employee of a New Mexico-based trucking company pleaded guilty in federal court to embezzling more than $1.1 million from her employer.
Sandra Roberto, 42, of Las Cruces pleaded guilty last month to one count of wire fraud and one count of filing a false income tax return in the U.S. District Court in New Mexico.
Roberto was hired by Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) to work as a clerk in its fuel department in 2009. She was later reassigned to work in the trucking company’s accounting department.
Roberto admitted that over a seven-year period, from 2011 to 2018, she authorized more than 1,735 checks and money transfers for her personal use. She did that by using two third-party electronic payment services, Comdata Inc. and EFS, that MVT used to pay its sponsored race car drivers as well as its truck drivers for fuel expenses and cash advances.
According to court documents, Roberto called Comdata and EFS to authorize checks, which she referred to as “fuel expenses,” then after obtaining the authorization codes for the checks, she filled in the dollar amounts, ranging from $400 to $975 per check. After making the checks payable to herself, she deposited them into her personal bank account.
MVT, which has more than 1,650 power units and the same number of drivers, paid Comdata weekly via wire transfer to Comdata’s bank account in Alabama.
To cover up the fraud, Roberto “modified the transactions” from the sponsored race car drivers’ accounts at MVT and “spread them out over regular truck drivers’ cash advance accounts,” according to court filings.
She said MVT terminated her employment in 2018 after discovering her embezzlement scheme.
IRS wants its share
In addition to wire fraud, Roberto also falsified her income tax returns by failing to report the embezzled funds to the IRS, according to the court documents.
Court filings claim that in 2017, Roberto embezzled $217,260, but only reported $31,932 as taxable income to the IRS.
She faces up to 20 years in prison and must pay restitution totaling over $1.1 million to MVT and more than $250,000 to the IRS. Roberto’s sentencing date has not been set.
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Also, check out the latest episode of our true crime podcast here: Profits drive log fraud in trucking — Long-Haul Crime Log