Disney Cruise Ship Employee Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud, Admitting He Embezzled More than $275,000
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph J.M. Orabona (619)546-7951
NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – December 21, 2017
SAN DIEGO – Renan Dias Da Rocha Gomes, a former employee aboard the Disney Wonder cruise ship, entered a guilty plea today to one count of wire fraud in connection with his scheme to embezzle more than $275,000 from The Walt Disney Company.
Gomes, who was arrested by federal agents on October 27, 2017, when the Disney Wonder made port in San Diego, admitted that from at least October 2015 through October 27, 2017, he was employed as a merchandise host and assigned to work in the merchandise stores aboard the Disney Wonder. At the hearing today, Gomes admitted he executed his scheme by fraudulently obtaining money through his access to the VeriFone payment system in order to embezzle funds from Disney for his own personal use and benefit.
According to the plea agreement, Gomes admitted he made approximately $275,000 in unauthorized charges to Disney’s bank account, and loaded the value of the funds onto Disney gift cards while working aboard the Disney Wonder on the high seas. Gomes also admitted that from April 23, 2017 through May 7, 2017, he spent approximately $37,700 of the embezzled funds for his own personal benefit by taking his family on a Disney World vacation. While on this vacation, Gomes stated the he used the gift cards with the embezzled funds to pay approximately $8,200 on lodging, approximately $29,500 on food, beverage, merchandise and entertainment expenses. As part of his plea agreement, Gomes will be required to repay The Walt Disney Company the total amount of funds he stole which the company was unable to recover.
“When someone misappropriates company assets, the loss not only affects the company but also the consumer. Today’s guilty plea sends a strong message that those who commit such corporate fraud, even while operating on the high seas, will be held accountable in this district,” said United States Attorney Adam L. Braverman.
“This case illustrates the dangers that businesses face from trusted insiders who seek to defraud them. While external fraud threats are usually the focus, the greatest fraud threats to businesses are typically from within,” stated Special Agent in Charge Eric S. Birnbaum. “The FBI remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to detect corporate crime in all its forms and bring those responsible to justice.”
“Today’s guilty plea is an example of the significant results that can be achieved when law enforcement agencies form a great partnership and work diligently to bring a case to prosecution,” said David Shaw, Special Agent in Charge for Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in San Diego. “HSI will continue to investigate these individuals who attempt to enrich themselves by fraudulent means.”
Gomes’ next court appearance is on March 9, 2018 at 9 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Cathy A. Bencivengo. Gomes, who is a Brazilian national, remains in federal custody.
DEFENDANT Criminal Case No. 17CR3897-CAB
Renan Dias Da Rocha Gomes Age: 32 Citizenship: Brazil
SUMMARY OF CHARGES:
Count 1 – Wire Fraud (18 U.S.C. § 1343)
Maximum Penalties: mandatory minimum of 20 years in prison; maximum fine of $250,000; maximum term of supervised release of 3 years; restitution
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Homeland Security Investigations, Immigration and Customs Enforcement
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Updated December 21, 2017
Press Release Number: CAS-1221-Gomes