TEXAS WOMAN SENTENCED TO TWO YEARS IN PRISON FOR FEDERAL
ALBUQUERQUE – Selma Morales, 55, of Lubbock, Tex., was sentenced today in federal court in Santa Fe, NM, to 24 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release for her conviction on a wire fraud charge arising from a scheme to defraud her employer. Morales also was ordered to pay $924,311 in restitution to her former employer.
According to court records, from May 2009 through May 2015, Morales engaged in a scheme to defraud her former employer, a law firm headquartered in Lubbock with offices in Albuquerque, Hobbs and Las Cruces, NM, of more than $550,000, which she used for unauthorized personal charges and expenditures. At the time, Morales was the law firm’s financial manager and bookkeeper.
Morales pleaded guilty in Sept. 2017, and admitted abusing her position as a trusted, high-level employee who managed the law firm’s day-to-day finances to perpetuate her fraudulent scheme. She acknowledged having access to the law firm’s bank accounts and credit cards in connection with her employment, and using the law firm’s credit cards to pay for personal expenses, including meals, groceries, car repairs, car and home insurance, property taxes, funeral expenses for a relative, clothing, sports apparel and equipment, designer products, jewelry, and plastic surgery. She also used the law firm’s credit cards to pay for family vacations and travel (including trips to San Francisco, Calif., Seattle, Wash., and Las Vegas, Nev.), entertainment (including season tickets to college athletic events, concerts and NBA playoff tickets), apartment rental payments, and college tuition payments. Morales also used her position as well as information about her employer to conceal her fraudulent activity.
The case was investigated by the Albuquerque office of the FBI, and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Margaret M. Vierbuchen and Brandon L. Fyffe.