A former manager of SeaWorld was sentenced Friday to 30 months in prison for embezzling more than $800,000 over a period of eight years while he was working there.
Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, 48, created fake invoices for a sham company called “SJ Merchandise” that he secretly owned and used his position as manager to approve payments from SeaWorld. Jobin-Reyes created a dummy email account and posed as “SJ Merchandise” owner “John Caldwell” to correspond with SeaWorld officials.
He used his work computer to make fake invoices for inventory such as “wildlife animal bookmarks,” “sea creature rings” and purple shiny ornaments” that that were difficult to trace.
Jobin-Reyes accepted fraudulent payments for just under $10,000, the amount that would have triggered a further review. SeaWorld only discovered the fraud after he had embezzled over $800,000.
“Today’s sentencing is a reminder to those who engage in financial fraud and identity theft that the U.S. Secret Service and its law enforcement partners will actively investigate and pursue prosecution of those who violate the trust of their employers for their own personal gain,” U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge David Murray said.
Jobin-Reyes also claimed fake expenses for “SJ Merchandise" on his tax returns and pretended his business with underwater with heavy losses to reduce the amount of taxes he owed, underpaying by more than $200,000 between 2010 and 2014.
“Business insiders who abuse the trust of their employers and the community should be warned that they face serious consequences and will be brought to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy. “We are dedicated to protecting our local businesses, citizens, and taxpayers from corruption and deceit.”
Along with his alias “John Caldwell,” Jobin-Reyes also stole the identity of a friend a former roommate who had once given him access to his personal information. He convinced his friend to open business banking and credit accounts, then used the accounts to receive and disburse the embezzled funds from SeaWorld.
He also used his friend’s social security card to open several credit cards, racking up unpaid and overdue balances of at least $177,000. He also had credit cards opened for family members, adding more debt to his friend’s account.
Jobin-Reyes spent the money on cruises, plane tickets, hotels, restaurants and shopping.
“As today’s sentencing of Mr. Jobin-Reyes demonstrates, defrauding your employer, your friend, and deceiving the IRS results in serious consequences, both financially and in terms of one’s freedom,” stated IRS-Criminal Investigation Acting Special Agent in Charge Anthony J. Orlando. “IRS-Criminal Investigation is committed to working with our law enforcement partners, as well as with members of the local community, to identify, investigate, and prosecute those who commit fraud for their own personal financial gain.”
After his arrest in Dallas in March, Jobin-Reyes has been detained as a flight risk. He has been ordered to pay $818,000 to SeaWorld, $177,000 to the friend whose identity he stole and hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes and penalties to the IRS.