Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The former financial controller for San Diego-based RAL Investment Corp. was sentenced Monday to 20 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to taking more than $400,000 from the company.

Derick Jonathan Cameron, 38, of Vancouver, Washington, pleaded guilty last year to a federal wire fraud charge for issuing more than 200 unauthorized company checks to himself and depositing them into his personal bank account.

Prosecutors said he used the electronic signature of the company’s CFO when issuing the checks and concealed the payments by altering the company’s accounting records to make it appear that the checks were being issued to third-party vendors for business expenses.

He was fired after the company discovered the embezzlement in 2018.

The company then reported the crime to law enforcement after Cameron couldn’t make promised repayments on time, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

In addition to prison time, Cameron was fined $8,000 and ordered to pay $203,857 in restitution. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said that amount represents the difference between the amount stolen from RAL and $200,000 Cameron has already repaid to his former employer.

“The impact of fraud on small businesses can be devastating,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said. “This defendant abused his position of trust to enrich himself, and he has been held to account for his crime.”

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