Houston Woman Charged With Defrauding Sugar Land Mission
HOUSTON – A 38-year-old resident of Houston has been arrested in connection with the submission of falsified funds requests to an investment adviser for the Basilian Father’s Missions of the Catholic Church (BFM), announced Acting United States Attorney Abe Martinez.
A grand jury returned a sealed indictment against Rosina K. Blanco aka Rosina Aviles on June 29, 2017, charging her with eight counts of wire fraud. The indictment was unsealed upon her arrest by federal authorities today. She is expected to make her initial appearance before U.S. Magistrate Frances Stacy at 2:00 p.m.
The BFM is headquartered in Sugar Land and raises money in North America to support schools in Mexico and Colombia. It reports to the Congregation of St. Basil, an order of Catholic priests headquartered in Toronto, Canada. The BFM receives funding from several sources to include the Congregation of St. Basil in Canada, individual mail solicitations and mission offerings.
The indictment alleges that on Aug. 31, 2015, Blanco was hired to be the bookkeeper for the BFM. She allegedly then caused more than $1 million in unauthorized transfers from BFM accounts to accounts in her name. Blanco accomplished the theft by using a computer to transmit fraudulent and falsified funds transfer requests from the Southern District of Texas to the BFM investment manager in St. Louis who then unwittingly transferred more than $1 million in BFM funds, according to the charges.
From September 2015 to October 2016, Blanco facilitated the transfer of approximately $1,107,425 from BFM accounts to her personal accounts without authorization, according to the indictment. Blanco allegedly used the majority of these funds for personal expenses such as jewelry, furniture, luxury cars, real estate, Louis Vuitton handbags, goods and services for her dog and other luxury items.
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.