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Ex-SeaWorld Manager Facing Fraud Charges

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A former SeaWorld San Diego manager was arraigned Monday on wire-fraud charges related to an eight-year, $750,000 embezzlement scheme he is accused of orchestrating while working as a show producer at the theme park.

Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes, 47, also known as Sebastian Jobin, is charged with stealing more than $750,000 by creating fake invoices from a fictitious company and then using his authority as a SeaWorld manager to approve their payment. Jobin-Reyes is accused of diverting the money to bank accounts he controlled and spending it on restaurants, plane tickets, hotels and shopping.

If convicted, Jobin-Reyes faces a maximum of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine plus restitution, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.

Federal prosecutors say Johin-Reyes took on the fake alias "John Caldwell" to communicate with SeaWorld about the fake merchandise company "SJ Merchandise," which he registered with the Secretary of State but did not actually conduct any real business.

SeaWorld investigators discovered Jobin-Reyes used his work computer to create more than 100 fake invoices for goods that were never delivered to SeaWorld, including "wildlife animal bookmarks," "sea creature rings," "purple shiny ornaments" and "poinsettia in pots." Many of the invoices were just under the $10,000 threshold, which resulted in limited review by his managers, according to the complaint.

The theme park discovered the fraud in early 2015, after unknowingly paying Jobin-Reyes more than $750,000.

Duffy said they will "root out" those with insider information who take advantage of businesses.

"We are dedicated to protecting our local businesses and institutions from corruption inside and out. We will root out and prosecute business insiders who abuse the trust of their employers and the community," Duffy said.

The former SeaWorld manager was arrested in Dallas, Texas on March 12 and made his initial appearance there. U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Stickney of the Northern District of Texas found Jobin-Reyes posed a serious flight risk and ordered him detained pending trial.

SeaWorld San Diego said that "while we have cooperated with federal law enforcement in this case, as a matter of policy we don't comment on personnel matters. Further inquiries should be directed to the U.S. Attorney's office."

Jobin-Reyes' next court appearance is scheduled for Thursday.

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