A former SeaWorld San Diego manager pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday, admitting he embezzled a total of $818,000 in more than eight years.
Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, 47, also known as Sebastian Jobin, admitted he set up a sham company, “SJ Merchandise” and sent more than 100 fake invoices to SeaWorld over the course of eight years.
According to court documents, the fake invoices were for disposable good such as “wildlife animal bookmarks,” “sea creature rings,” purple shiny ornaments” and “poinsettia in pots.” SeaWorld never received these goods.
He was arrested on March 12th in Dallas.
“Business insiders who abuse the trust of their employers and the community will be held accountable and brought to justice,” said U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
Investigators say Jobin-Reyes made the invoices using his work computer under the name “John Caldwell” to conceal his identity.
The invoices were just under $10,000 which is the threshold amount that would cause suspicion from management if exceeded. SeaWorld officials say this is what alerted them to the fraud.
Jobin-Reyes admitted he cheated the IRS by claiming fake expenses on his taxes and pretending his business had suffered loses.
“Mr. Jobin-Reyes abused his position as a manager at SeaWorld for his own selfish gain. When that was not enough, he went on to defraud the government by claiming false expenses and failing to report significant income on his tax return,” said Aimee Schabilion, acting Special in Charge for IRS Criminal Investigation.
As part of his plea bargain, Jobin-Reyes also admitted he convinced an unsuspecting friend to open business banking and credit accounts. He then used those accounts to embezzle the funds from SeaWorld.
The money was used to buy plane tickets, pay for hotels, restaurants and shopping.
SeaWorld paid Jobin-Reyes more than $750,000 before officials discovered the fraud in early 2015.
He is scheduled to be sentenced on August 5th.