Former Alarm Monitoring Company Employees Charged With Fraud
HOUSTON – Two Houston area women and one man have been charged with wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Abe Martinez.
A federal grand jury returned a sealed indictment against Sonja Martinez, 46, of Rosharon, Michell Garcia, 36, of Spring, and Ray Torres, 46, of Houston, on Oct. 18, 2017. Martinez was taken into custody yesterday and is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith today at 2:00 p.m. Garcia and Torres have been ordered to make their appearances Friday, Oct. 27 at 10:00 a.m.
The three defendants are alleged to have electronically submitted falsified vendor requests for payment to divert money to themselves from their former employer’s bank account. All are charged with one count of conspiracy and eight counts of wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Martinez, Garcia and Torres worked at the Houston branch of a Florida-based security company that installed, tested and monitored fire and security systems. The Florida company had acquired the Houston branch from another company, and all three defendants had worked at the predecessor company, according to the indictment.
The company used third party vendors to install its alarm systems. The indictment alleges Martinez and Garcia worked in the accounting department and were responsible for paying the vendors and noting in the company’s accounting system. From November 2011 until May 2016, Martinez, Garcia and Torres allegedly participated in a scheme to divert approximately $1,661,163 to themselves and their family members. The indictment alleges they used a computer in Texas to submit fraudulent vendor requests for payment to their employer’s out-of-state bank. They then allegedly used an electronic bank token to release funds to ACH transfer money from their employer’s bank account to their own bank accounts and bank accounts of their relatives.
The FBI conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Belinda Beek is prosecuting the case.
An indictment is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.
A defendant is presumed innocent unless convicted through due process of law.