Federal courthouse
Federal courthouse in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

The former operations manager of a San Diego technology support firm was sentenced Friday to two years in prison for embezzling more than $350,000 from the company.

Matthew P. Hernandez, 46, of Riverside, pleaded guilty to four felony wire fraud counts last summer for using his role at the unidentified firm to steal funds “hundreds of times over the course of seven years,” prosecutors said.

The prosecution’s sentencing papers say Hernandez was hired to help manage the company’s finances and was responsible for managing payroll, accounts payable and disbursing bonuses to employees, giving him “unfettered access to the company’s books and records.”

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Hernandez employed several methods to steal from the company, including issuing checks and making online payments to pay off his credit card debt, using the corporate credit card to make personal purchases, issuing multiple paychecks to himself during a single pay period and issuing checks from the business checking account directly into his personal bank account.

Some items Hernandez purchased with the firm’s credit card include a $3,500 hot tub, a home gym, a knife set, a TAG Heuer racing watch, roundtrip flights from Los Angeles to the Dominican Republic and Coachella festival tickets, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Hernandez then falsified company records to make the fraudulent payments appear legitimate.

In early 2017, prosecutors say the firm discovered that Hernandez had overdrawn $10,000 from the company’s checking account, which led to a review of its books and records that uncovered years of unauthorized purchases and transactions.

In addition to custody, Hernandez was ordered to pay $356,664.46 in restitution to the firm.