Former Wind Farm Manager Sentenced to 3 Years in $550,000 Embezzlement Scheme
A San Angelo man who embezzled more than half a million dollars from a wind farm was sentenced yesterday to more than three years in federal prison, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.
Arturo Salazar III, 41, a former site manager for a Vestas-American Wind Technologies wind farm, pleaded guilty to four counts of unauthorized transactions with access devices in May. He was sentenced Thursday to 37 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge James Wesley Hendrix, who ordered him to pay $359,810 in restitution to the company.
According to court documents, Mr. Salazar admitted that he teamed up with a conspirator to create a sham business, BT Machine, with the sole purpose of creating fraudulent invoices.
From 2016 to 2019, the pair created hundreds of bogus invoices for nonexistent equipment BT Machine purportedly leased to Vestas. The conpsirator sent each invoice – complete with a BT “logo” – to Mr. Salazar at his work email address; Mr. Salazar then paid each one with his Vetas credit card. He and the other individual then split the money.
Mr. Salazar also used Vestas company credit cards to make unauthorized purchases totaling approximately $80,000. These personal purchases included products from Amazon as well as a $50,000 skid steer loader, a $18,900 universal terrain vehicle, and a $7,900 dump trailer.
From 2016 to 2019, Mr. Salazar admitted to defrauding Vestas out of more than $550,000. To avoid detection, he kept each transaction under the $2,000 limit set by his employer.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Dallas Field Office, San Angelo Resident Agency conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Howey prosecuted the case.