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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Former Bookkeeper Admits to Stealing from San Diego Business

Assistant U. S. Attorneys Eric Olah (619) 546-7540 and Seth Askins (619) 546-6692

NEWS RELEASE SUMMARY – March 9, 2021

SAN DIEGO – Arthur Jason “AJ” Morales of Pahrump, Nevada pleaded guilty in federal court today to a wire fraud charge, admitting that while employed as a bookkeeper for a San Diego lighting company, he abused his access to the company’s checkbook and issued himself 28 unauthorized checks totaling more than $183,000. 

In a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell D. Dembin, Morales admitted he issued the checks—sometimes forging the signatures of company management on them—to his personal business, “AJ’s Tax & Bookkeeping Service,” and deposited them into his personal bank account. He then concealed the payments by manipulating the company’s accounting records to make it appear that each check was issued for a legitimate business expense to a third-party vendor.  The company realized Morales’ fraudulent activity in March 2016 when it discovered a check in the amount of $16,274 that Morales had issued to his personal business and cashed.

"The impact of fraud on small businesses can be devastation," said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. "This defendant abused his position of trust to enrich himself, and he has been held to account for his crime." Grossman praised prosecutors Eric Olah and Seth Askins and FBI agents for their excellent work on this case.

“Accountants stealing money from an employer's coffers is the ultimate violation of fiduciary trust and can be a violation of federal law,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Suzanne Turner.  “In this case, the FBI investigation revealed Arthur Morales fraudulently wired money to his personal bank account in regular increments over seven months, totaling approximately $183,408.02. Today's conviction shows the FBI's commitment to investigating financial crimes that affect San Diego businesses.”

Morales is scheduled to be sentenced on June 7, 2021 before U.S. District Judge Larry Burns.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number  20-CR-2348-LAB                                  

Arthur Jason Morales                                    Age: 42                       Pahrump, Nevada

SUMMARY OF CHARGES

Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1343

Maximum penalty: Twenty years in prison and $250,000 fine, or twice the gain/loss, whichever is greater.  

AGENCY

Federal Bureau of Investigation

 

Topic(s): 
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 
CAS21-0309-Morales
Updated March 10, 2021