Man Gets 30 Months for Defrauding SeaWorld

     SAN DIEGO (CN) — A former SeaWorld San Diego manager has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling $818,000 from the park over a more than eight-year period.
     Wilfred David Joseph Jobin-Reyes also known as Sebastian Jobin was sentenced Sept. 23 by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return. Jobin created a sham company and alias from which he issued fake invoices for trinkets and toys sold at the amusement park, according to U.S. Attorney Laura Duffy.
     In addition to his prison sentence, the former SeaWorld manager must pay back the total amount he stole from SeaWorld and a personal friend, totaling more than $1 million. He must also pay back hundreds of thousands in back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, Duffy said.
     The company, SJ Merchandise, was secretly owned by Jobin-Reyes, who used his managerial position at SeaWorld to approve and pay invoices with little supervisor oversight. He pretended to be SJ Merchandise owner “John Caldwell” when corresponding with SeaWorld officials, and even used his work computer to create fake invoices for items such as “wildlife animal bookmarks,” “sea creature rings,” and “purple shiny ornaments,” which were difficult to trace or verify in SeaWorld’s inventory, Duffy said.
     The fake invoices grew larger over time, frequently totaling amounts just under the $10,000 threshold that would have required approval from his bosses at SeaWorld.
     Jobin-Reyes also used the sham merchandise company to cheat the IRS by claiming fake expenses on his tax returns. He underpaid more than $200,000 in taxes between 2010 and 2014 by pretending his business was underwater and experiencing hefty loses, according to Duffy.
     Not only did Jobin-Reyes create a fake identity, he also stole the identity of his friend and former roommate who once gave him access to financial information. The SeaWorld manager convinced his friend to open business banking and credit accounts, then used those accounts to receive and disburse the illegal proceeds from SeaWorld.
     Jobin-Reyes opened several new credit cards without his friend’s knowledge, leaving him with at least $177,000 in unpaid credit card bills, Duffy said. He also had additional credit cards made for his family members, racking up more debt on his friend’s credit.
     He used the stolen money to live a lavish lifestyle, spending the cash on cruises, plane tickets, hotels, restaurants and shopping. The year before he was arrested, Jobin-Reyes traveled around the United States from New Orleans to Hawaii, spending the stolen money.
     “Business insiders who abuse the trust of their employees and the community should be warned that they face serious consequences and will be brought to justice,” Duffy said. “We are dedicated to protecting our local businesses, citizens and taxpayers from corruption and deceit.”
     Jobin-Reyes was arrested in Dallas in March and has since been detained in federal custody as a flight risk. He faced up to 20 years in jail.

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