U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that DON MANUEL ZEMO, JR., age 55, a resident of River Ridge, Louisiana, pleaded guilty yesterday before United States District Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle after previously being charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, for his role in stealing over $1,000,000 from his employer, a privately owned and operated company that provided portside services as a terminal operator and stevedore at the Port of New Orleans.
According to court documents, Company A hired ZEMO in 1999. Between 2003 and 2015, he served as the General Manager of Port Operations and earned in excess of $100,000 per year for his employment. As General Manager, ZEMO oversaw and managed Company A’s day-to-day operations at Company A’s terminal at the Port of New Orleans, including handling all financial documentation, personnel decisions, job scheduling, implementing of Company A’s policies at Company A’s Port of New Orleans terminal, and facilitating the billing of Company A’s customers.
In about August 2009, R.Z. formed U.S. Gulf Trade, Inc. (“USGT”). Although ZEMO was not explicitly affiliated with USGT, he was involved in its day-to-day operations. Between January 29, 2012, and July 7, 2015, ZEMO and R.Z. diverted approximately $1,033,639.54 over the course of eighty (80) transactions from Company A to themselves and USGT. ZEMO did so by representing to Company A’s customers that USGT, and not Company A, had provided certain services and material to the customer when, in fact, Company A’s equipment, employees, and material was used to provide the services and directing customers to transmit payments to USGT, not Company A, for the services rendered and material provided, without Company A’s knowledge or authorization. Among the fraudulent transactions ZEMO caused was one on May 22, 2015, in which ZEMO caused a shipping company to send a check via U.S. Mail to USGT in the amount $49,498.49, when such funds should have been made payable to, and actually transmitted to, Company A.
ZEMO faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, a fine of up to $250,000.00, three years supervised release after imprisonment, and a mandatory $100 special assessment. Sentencing before Judge Lemelle has been scheduled for August 29, 2018.
U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Jordan Ginsberg is in charge of the prosecution.