Former Lincoln Land Community College Employee Pleads Guilty to Fraud Scheme; Agrees to Pay Back Nearly $700,000
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – A former telecommunications employee of Lincoln Land Community College, John H. Martinez, 47, waived indictment and pled guilty to a scheme that defrauded the college of nearly $700,000 over seven years. Martinez, of the 4600 block of Lily Lane, Springfield, Ill., appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Tom Schanzle-Haskins on Friday, Feb. 3.
According to court documents, during the time Martinez carried out the scheme, from 2005 to February 2012, he was employed as a telecommunications administrator. In this capacity, Martinez worked on the college’s telephone system and was authorized to order products for its communications network. For vendor payments greater than a certain amount, Martinez was required to complete certain forms and documentation to obtain supervisory approval for the expenditure. As part of the scheme, Martinez admitted he repeatedly forged his supervisors’ signatures to authorize expenditures and caused the college to issue checks to fictitious vendors.
To carry out the scheme, Martinez removed some of the checks to fictitious vendors from the college’s mailroom prior to mailing. For one of the vendors, Martinez caused checks to be mailed to an invalid address, knowing that the checks would be returned and given to him for delivery. Martinez then deposited the fraudulent checks in his personal bank account and used the funds for personal expenses. Two other vendors were owned by Martinez’s friends, with whom Martinez agreed that the friends would deposit the checks in their personal accounts and make cash payments back to Martinez. Martinez allowed the vendors/friends to retain part of the proceeds from the checks in exchange for their assistance in the scheme.
Martinez admitted that he used the fraud proceeds to finance his personal lifestyle, including personal expenses, repeated personal travel, and alcohol expenses. As a result of the scheme, Martinez caused a loss of approximately $695,401 to Lincoln Land Community College.
Martinez’s sentencing is scheduled on June 5, 2017. As part of the plea agreement, Martinez has agreed to pay full restitution, in the amount of $695,401 to Lincoln Land Community College and its insurers. The parties have further agreed that the advisory sentencing guideline range which will be presented to the court may be up to 51 months in prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy A. Bass. The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, Illinois State Police, and the Lincoln Land Police Department, with the full cooperation of Lincoln Land Community College, which referred the matter to law enforcement.