An after-school program that the U.S. Department of Justice says was designed to keep kids from violence lost $160,000 through an embezzling employee, according to a federal court indictment and the department.
That former employee, 28-year-old Ramon Rodriguez of Miami, has been charged with nine counts of wire fraud in Miami federal court, where Rodriguez had his first appearance Friday.
Miami police and the U.S. Secret Service investigated the scheme Rodriguez allegedly ran from January 2017 through June 2018. Neither the indictment nor Justice’s announcement named the organization, other than the department saying it was a “religious charity ... that runs after-school programs for underprivileged immigrant children to help them avoid gangs and gang violence.”
What was described in greater detail is Rodriguez’s alleged scheme. The indictment says the investigation by Miami police and the U.S. Secret Service found that Rodriguez used the charity’s TD Bank credit card to pay either his PayPal or Square account or make unauthorized purchases either online or at brick-and-mortar retail stores.
He covered up his embezzling, the indictment reads, by creating fake invoices from TD Bank.
While the Department of Justice’s announcement accuses Rodriguez of making mundane purchases such as lawn chairs, bug spray, tiki torches and groceries, the indictment focus on nine occasions from March 2017 through June 2018 when investigators say he wired money into or out of Florida. Those included wire-transferring $1,900 from his PayPal account to his Wells Fargo account on March 29, 2017, or $2,040 at The Home Depot on June 12, 2017, according to the indictment.
Moving money across state lines puts the transaction under federal jurisdiction.