By Neal Putnam
The former bookkeeper for a Downtown lighting company was sentenced June 7 to two years in federal prison and ordered to pay $227,543 for embezzlement.
Arthur Jason Morales, also known as AJ Morales, 42, worked for Hyperikon, Inc., which is located on Broadway and was founded in 2011.
The company has 24 employees and its headquarters were downtown. Morales’ scheme began in 2015 and it ended in March, 2016 when Hyperikon discovered Morales wrote a check for $16,274 to himself and cashed it.
U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns also ordered him to pay $50,000 to the company’s insurance firm. Morales pleaded guilty to wire fraud and 26 other theft related charges were dismissed.
Morales was remanded into custody and it is expected he will be transferred to a Nevada correctional facility, according to court records. He had been free on $30,000 bond.
Morales wrote 28 checks to himself from the lighting company’s bank account, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office. He was being paid $8,000 a month for bookkeeping services which a prosecutor wrote was a high salary, but it didn’t stop Morales from stealing.
“The impact of fraud on small businesses can be devastating,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. “This defendant abused his position of trust to enrich himself, and he has been held to account for his crime.”
“Accountants stealing money from an employer’s coffers is the ultimate violation of fiduciary trust and can be a violation of federal law,” said FBI special agent Suzanne Turner. “In this case, the FBI investigation revealed Arthur Morales fraudulently wired money to his personal bank account in regular increments over seven months.”
A prosecutor filed documents that said Morales once stole $60,000 from another company in 2014 and was sentenced to 60 days in jail in another state.
The federal probation department recommended two years in prison. His attorney asked for one year of house arrest.
— Neal Putnam is a local court reporter.