A former SeaWorld manager who embezzled $818,000 from the park over a more than eight-year period was sentenced in federal court Friday to 30 months in prison.
Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, 48, was convicted of wire fraud and filing a false tax return.
Prosecutors said Jobin-Reyes created fake invoices for a sham company he secretly owned, called “SJ Merchandise.”
The defendant then used his management position to approve the payments on behalf of SeaWorld.
Jobin-Reyes also created an alias along with a dummy email account he used to correspond with SeaWorld officials, pretending to be SJ Merchandise owner “John Caldwell.”
In fact, Jobin-Reyes used his work computer to generate the fraudulent invoices, for disposable goods like “wildlife animal bookmarks,” “sea creature rings,” and “purple shiny ornaments” that were difficult to trace or verify in SeaWorld’s inventory.
Over time, the invoices grew larger, so that by 2015 Jobin-Reyes was requesting fraudulent payments for amounts just under the $10,000 threshold that would have triggered further review by his bosses at SeaWorld.
SeaWorld eventually discovered the fraud, but only after Jobin-Reyes had pocketed more than $800,000 in payments to his fake company.
According to prosecutors, the defendant also used his sham merchandise company to cheat the IRS by claiming fake expenses on his tax returns.
By pretending that his business was underwater with hefty losses, Jobin- Reyes reduced the amount of taxes he claimed he owed, and underpaid more than $200,000 for tax years 2010 through 2014.
Jobin-Reyes also stole the identity of a real person, his friend and former roommate who had once given Jobin-Reyes access to his personal information. Jobin-Reyes convinced his friend to open business banking and credit accounts, using the friend’s social security number and good credit, then used those accounts to receive and disburse the illegal proceeds from SeaWorld.
The defendant went on to use his friend’s social security number to open several new credit cards without the friend’s knowledge, admitting that he left the friend with unpaid and overdue balances of at least $177,000.
Prosecutors said Jobin-Reyes used the money he stole to fund a lavish lifestyle he could not otherwise afford. He spent money on cruises, plane tickets, hotels, restaurants and shopping. In the year preceding his arrest, Jobin-Reyes traveled around the country from New Orleans to Hawaii, spending the stolen money.
In addition to the prison sentence, Jobin-Reyes was ordered to pay $818,000 in restitution to SeaWorld and $177,000 to the victim of identity theft.
–City News Service
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