A San Antonio-area man has pleaded guilty to accepting $432,000 in unearned payroll funds as part of a scam against trucking company Texas Chrome Transport Inc.
Mario Martinez, 49, is the sixth person to plead guilty in the scheme that diverted more than $1.4 million from Atascosa, Texas-based Texas Chrome Transport and a related company, MJR Truck Lines Inc. Atascosa is located 22 miles south of San Antonio.
Texas Chrome Transport has 208 drivers and 208 power units, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The company, founded in 1975, hauls frac sand to oil sites across the state.
The scam was allegedly started in 2017 by Martinez’s girlfriend, Veronica Rios, who remains the lone defendant, documents said.
Rios, 42, was an administrative assistant and payroll administrator at Texas Chrome Transport. In 2017, authorities say, she began overpaying company employees in exchange for some of the overpayment.
Rios also allegedly added nonemployees to the payroll who gave her part of the payments they received. Among those was Martinez, who never worked for either Texas Chrome Transport or MJR Truck Lines.
Prosecutors say that from 2017 through 2020, Rios overpaid company employee Pedro Guillen more than $424,000 and employee Tommy Byrum more than $140,000. Rios also paid her daughter-in-law, Amanda Hernandez, more than $30,000 after Hernandez left Texas Chrome Transport in 2019.
Prosecutors also allege Rios paid Maira Vargas $30,000 in payroll payments and Guadalupe Alsidez $200,000. Neither ever worked for either of the companies.
Rios, Martinez, Alsidez, Guillen, Hernandez and Vargas were arrested in April 2021. It’s not clear when Byrum was arrested.
In addition to Martinez, Guillen, Byrum, Hernandez, Vargas and Alsidez have also all pleaded guilty. Sentencing has been set for August.
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