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Press Release

Former Law Firm Office Manager Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison For Embezzling More Than $1.1 Million From San Francisco Law Firm

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Jairo Tomas Santos was sentenced to 36 months in prison and ordered to pay $1,191,638.64 in restitution for bank fraud in connection with a scheme to embezzle funds from his former employer, a San Francisco-based law firm, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp.  The sentence was handed down by the Hon. William H. Alsup, United States District Judge.

Santos, 42, formerly of San Mateo, California, pleaded guilty to the charge on November 20, 2023.  According to his plea agreement, Santos admitted he embezzled more than $1.1 million from a San Francisco-based law firm where he had been employed as the office manager.  According to his plea agreement, Santos began his embezzlement scheme no later than March 2016 and continued it through February 2023.  As part of the scheme, Santos obtained checks from the victim law firm, filled out the payee line of those checks, addressing them to “Jairo Santos,” and signed each check with the signature of the law firm’s senior partner even though Santos was not authorized to do so.  Santos then deposited these checks into his personal checking accounts at Wells Fargo Bank. Santos admitted he deposited approximately 806 fraudulent and unauthorized checks from the victim law firm made payable to Santos into his personal checking accounts.  The total value of these unauthorized deposits was approximately $1,191,683.  Santos deposited these checks from the victim law firm knowing that the payments were not authorized by the firm or its senior partner.

A federal grand jury indicted Santos on July 25, 2023, charging him with three counts of bank fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1344. Santos pleaded guilty to one count. As part of his sentencing, Judge Alsup dismissed the remaining counts.

In imposing the sentence, Judge Alsup remarked that this is “an egregious case” with “hundreds and hundreds of checks written and stolen” by the defendant.  Judge Alsup emphasized that Santos “took advantage” of the victim law firm and that Santos’s conduct was “unforgivable.”  In addition to the prison term and restitution, Judge Alsup also sentenced the defendant to a five-year period of supervised release to begin after the defendant is released from prison.  Judge Alsup ordered the defendant to begin serving his prison term on April 23, 2024.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christiaan Highsmith is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Aarian Beiti.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI.

Updated March 13, 2024