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Press Release

Former Los Lunas Receptionist Sentenced to Forty-Two Months in Federal Prison for Bank Fraud and Identity Theft Conviction

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE – Sandra Rivas, 36, of Los Lunas, N.M., was sentenced earlier today to 42 months in federal prison followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on bank fraud and aggravated identity theft charges.  Rivas also was ordered to pay $14,022.47 to the victims of her criminal conduct.  Rivas’ sentencing was announced by U.S. Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales, Special Agent in Charge Dennis A. Ulrich, II, of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in El Paso, Texas, and Chief Roy Melnick of the Los Lunas Police Department.

Rivas was indicted in May 2012, and charged with 11 counts of bank fraud, 28 counts of aggravated identity theft, 18 counts of wire fraud, and one count of access device fraud.  According to the indictment, between March 2011 and July 2011, Rivas engaged in a pattern of criminal conduct while employed as a receptionist by a Valencia County business.  In her capacity as the receptionist, Rivas was responsible for accepting payments to the business from clients in the form of cash, checks and credit cards.  Rivas was charged with abusing her position by altering the payee information on checks payable to her employer and depositing the altered checks into her personal bank account; using the names, addresses, telephone numbers and bank account numbers of her employer’s clients to commit criminal offenses; and making fraudulent online purchases by using the credit card information belonging to her employer’s clients.

In Nov. 2012, Rivas pleaded guilty to Counts 1, 12 and 40 of the indictment, charging her with a bank fraud charge and two aggravated identity fraud charges under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  In entering her guilty plea, Rivas admitted that, while employed as a receptionist, she altered 11 checks payable to her employer by adding her name as payee and depositing the checks in her own bank account.  Rivas also admitted using the names and credit card numbers of her employer and her employer’s clients at least 19 times to make fraudulent online purchases for her own benefit.

Rivas is required to surrender to a federal correctional institution to be designated by the U.S. Bureau of Prisons within 60 days to begin serving her prison sentence.  As required by the plea agreement, the remaining counts in the indictment were dismissed after Rivas was sentenced.

This case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of HSI and the Los Lunas Police Department and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy Pena.

Updated January 26, 2015