Skip to main content
Press Release

Former oil executive sentenced for role in false payroll scheme

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Texas

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A 42-year-old Houston man has been ordered to federal prison following his conviction of money laundering through wire fraud, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Mohamad Sylla pleaded guilty May 28, admitting he conspired with Jose Luis Briseno, 41, Tynan, and David Contreras, 40, Paso Robles, California, to get a Houston oil production company to issue paychecks for work Contreras never completed and while he was not even employed at the company.

Today, U.S. District Judge David S. Morales handed Sylla a 30-month sentence to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

From Jan. 1 to Sept. 11, 2015, Briseno and Sylla were employed at the company as the service coordinator and South Texas region manager, respectively. The two men conspired to approve timesheets for Contreras even though he was no longer employed there. Briseno and Sylla ensured the timesheets were approved and payments issued. Once Contreras received the funds, he would split the paycheck with Briseno and Sylla. Briseno and Sylla additionally approved a series of fraudulent payments to fictitious vendors for services not provided.

The Houston oil production company paid out more than $400,000 as a result of the fraudulent schemes. Contreras, Briseno and Sylla then conspired to engage in monetary transactions using a portion of the funds.

On July 28, Judge Morales ordered Briseno to a 27-month sentence to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release. Contreras also pleaded guilty was sentenced to 12 months. 

Sylla was permitted to remain on bond and surrender at a later date to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Jeremy C. Fugate prosecuted the case. AUSA Robert Thorpe handled the sentencing.

Updated October 27, 2020

Financial Fraud