A 46-year-old woman, Leslie Garcia, is set to spend the next 65 years behind bars for stealing from her employer.
The woman was convicted on May 19, 2022, by a jury in Fort Bend County. Garcia is from Rosenberg, Texas, and she was found guilty of theft and misapplication of fiduciary property.
She stole the money from her employer over two years. Nevertheless, this was not the first time a woman was prosecuted for the same crime.
Leslie Garcia Stole From Two Companies
Garcia was one of the highest-paid employees at Sugar Land, Texas company. However, that was not enough motivation to keep her from taking $288,846.92 from the company for 22 months.
She made 29 unauthorized checks into a new bank account before her crimes were discovered.
Strangely, this was not the first time she was found guilty of such an offense. In 2008, she had stolen $106,000 from a different company in Rosenberg, Texas.
At the time, she had also relied on unauthorized checks to get two loans and give herself a pay raise before the company owners caught on.
She was out from parole for just 47 days before she started stealing from the Sugar Land company. The owners said they did not know about her previous crimes.
During the trial, Garcia tried to deny that she had been fired by the company owners while also saying she had not stolen funds. She also said she did not have a fraudulent bank account.
The lead prosecutor in the case, Susan Sweeney, said that Garcia had tried to blame others for her choices. Unfortunately for her, bank and government records revealed she was lying.
Sweeney also noted that Garcia was aware that her previous conviction would result in a lengthy prison sentence if she were caught stealing from an employer again. And yet, she could not avoid violating another employer's trust on several occasions.
District Attorney Brian Middleton noted that white-collar crime is "costly to the victims and the economy." He also said that prosecuting such crimes is time-sensitive and complicated, which is why he applauded the investigators and prosecutors who had worked hard to ensure Garcia faced justice.
The district attorney felt that her sentence was appropriate for her in consideration of her criminal history and the damage her actions had caused.
Her previous conviction meant that Garcia would spend 5 to 99 years in prison for her current crime. Eventually, Judge Tameika Carter decided she would have to spend 30 years behind bars for stealing and an additional 35 years for misapplication of fiduciary property.
The jury also decided that she had to pay the maximum fine of $10,000 for the two charges she faced.
She Liked To Steal With Fraudulent Checks
Garcia is not the first woman in Texas to steal from her employer. In 2020, Rosalinda Fuentes was sentenced to 45 months for stealing more than $973,000 from her employer.
In addition to the prison sentence, she had to pay back $973,760.98 as restitution to her former employer. Once she completes her prison sentence, she will have to remain under supervision for a year.
U.S. Attorney Bash noted that the crime Fuentes committed involved "blatant fraud." Bash found it unbelievable that the woman thought she would get away with what she did, given how apparent her crime was.
He was glad that the woman had finally faced justice for her crimes.
In 2019, Fuentes pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. She made details about her fraud apparent during her testimony.
She claimed to have used the names of previous and current employees to get fraudulent paychecks to put money into controlled bank accounts. From there, she hid the transactions from company records to keep her theft hidden.
The FBI, as well as the Texas Department of Public Safety, did an investigation into the case. FBI Special Agent in Charge Combs noted that the case was yet another example of how the cooperation between the two agencies benefits both them and the citizens of San Antonio.
The two institutions typically collaborate on significant financial fraud investigations.