Salesman stole $1.5M from Texas family’s small business: feds

A 35-year-old man has been sentenced to prison.

A 35-calendar year-previous man has been sentenced to jail.

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The top salesman of a family-owned business in Texas embezzled at least $1.5 million as part of a yearslong scheme, according to federal authorities.

From about 2018 through spring 2021, the Missouri City man stole from a North Houston company in the trucking business.

“He orchestrated an embezzlement scheme in which he stole from his employer by submitting fake and fraudulent invoices and then collecting the payments for himself,” according to a Sept. 20 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Texas.

“He began his scheme by asking clients to send invoices directly to him, as opposed to the company,” authorities said. “He then sent these invoices to the company with inflated expenses or unwanted upgrades, pocketing the difference for himself.”

Now, the 35-year-old man has been sentenced to a year and nine months in prison and a year of supervised release, records show. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud in August 2022.

The man’s defense attorney said he would not comment on the case until after the restitution hearing scheduled for Sept. 28.

Authorities said as the salesman’s scheme continued, he conspired with an owner of an after-market truck services company “that frequently did business with the victim company.”

In his plea agreement, the man said he had an arrangement with the owner, who billed his company for work that wasn’t done or work that was billed “at inflated prices.”

The fake invoices were printed on company letterhead with approved vendor numbers, then they were “batched” with legitimate invoices in attempt to hide them, according to the plea agreement.

Initially, the owner of the after-market truck services company received the payments and gave all but a small percentage to the salesman, authorities said. But as the scheme continued, the salesman set up a bank account for him and the owner, according to court records.

Authorities said this new bank account allowed the salesman to transfer the money to personal accounts without involving the owner.

The salesman was on bond but has agreed to voluntarily surrender at a later date, according to the release.

Kaitlyn Alatidd is a McClatchy Countrywide Genuine-Time Reporter primarily based in Kansas. She is an agricultural communications & journalism alumna of Kansas Condition College.