A former SeaWorld manager was arraigned in San Diego federal court Monday on wire fraud charges relating to an elaborate eight-year embezzlement scheme he allegedly orchestrated while working as a show producer at the marine mammal park.
Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, known as Sebastian Jobin, is charged with stealing more than $750,000 from SeaWorld by creating fake invoices from a fictitious company, then using his management position to approve their payments.
The 47-year-old defendant created a fake merchandising company, “SJ Merchandise,” which he registered with the Secretary of State but didn’t use to conduct any real business, court documents allege.
Jobin-Reyes adopted the fictitious alias “John Caldwell” to communicate with SeaWorld in order to conceal his ownership and control of the company, prosecutors allege.
After uncovering the fraud, SeaWorld investigators discovered that Jobin- Reyes had used his work computer to create more than 100 fake invoices for goods that were never actually delivered to the park, including “wildlife animal bookmarks,” “sea creature rings,” “purple shiny ornaments” and “poinsettia in pots,” court documents allege.
Man of the invoices Jobin-Reyes allegedly created were for amounts just under the $10,000 threshold that resulted in limited review by his managers, according to prosecutors.
SeaWorld unwittingly paid Jobin-Reyes more than $750,000 before discovering the allege fraud early in 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Jobin-Reyes was arrested in Dallas, Texas, on March 12 and made his initial court appearance there. On March 15, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney of the Northern District of Texas found that Jobin-Reyes posed a serious risk of flight and ordered him detained pending trial.
The defendant was brought to San Diego for his initial appearance in the Southern District of California Monday and will be back in court for a detention hearing on Thursday.
–City News Service
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