Department of State Contractor Pleads Guilty to Theft of Government Funds
Charleston, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon stated today that Mauricio Andulo Hidalgo, age 43, of Costa Rica, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Charleston, to Theft of Government Funds, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 641. United States District Judge Patrick Michael Duffy, of Charleston, accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the presentence report, which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Hidalgo used his position as President of SafetyPay-Central America to steal over $2,000,000 of government funds that were supposed to be transferred to a bank account maintained by the Department of State's Global Financial Services Center in Charleston. SafetyPay-Central America had been hired as a subcontractor to handle the processing of visa application fees for the United States Embassy in Costa Rica. As part of the scheme, Hidalgo diverted the funds from a SafetyPay bank account in Costa Rica to another Costa Rican account under his sole control.
Ms. Lydon stated the maximum penalty for Theft of Government Funds is imprisonment for 10 years and/or a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by special agents of the Department of State, Office of Inspector General, led by Inspector General Steve A. Linick. Assistant United States Attorneys Marshall "Matt" Austin and Nathan Williams of the Charleston Office are prosecuting the case.