Both Face Mandatory Prison Sentences after Convictions on Conspiracy, Money Laundering, and Theft
Phoenix, AZ (July 30, 2013) – Attorney General Tom Horne and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Special Agent in Charge Douglas G. Price today announced the jury convictions of 12-year veteran Department of Public Safety Officer Horacio Lomeli and his wife, Carmen Lomeli, on conspiracy, money laundering, and theft charges related to Mrs. Lomeli’s embezzlement of over $175,000 from her employer Sierra Seed, LLLP, based in Nogales, Arizona. Mrs. Lomeli also was convicted of fraud. Following a 12-person jury trial that started on July 9, 2013 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court before Hon. James A. Soto, jurors returned guilty verdicts on 18 of 19 counts on July 29, 2013. Judge Soto remanded both Defendants into the custody of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department pending sentencing on September 3, 2013. The Defendants are facing mandatory prison ranges between 4.5 – 23 years on each felony count.
Between September, 2004 and June, 2009, Defendant Carmen Lomeli fraudulently wrote, endorsed and deposited stolen Sierra Seed business checks into the couple’s joint checking account. Over this same time period, the Lomeli’s laundered the stolen funds through a series of personal expenditures for their mutual benefit. The theft of company monies jeopardized the financial stability of Sierra Seed, LLLP during its efforts to obtain business loans for expansion during an economic recession. Additionally, Defendant Carmen Lomeli misrepresented the stolen money as legitimate earned income on an August, 2006 application to qualify for a home loan for the couple two months after they had emerged from Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Carmen Lomeli also was convicted of mortgage fraud for her conduct in fraudulently obtaining this loan.
Santa Cruz County Attorney George Silva referred this Nogales Police Department investigation to Attorney General prosecutors based on the complexity of the case, who then referred the matter for further investigation to the FBI’s Tucson Office. After the State Grand Jury issued criminal indictments against both Defendants in June 2012, the Department of Public Safety placed Officer Lomeli on paid administrative leave.
“I am very pleased with the outcome of this case,” Attorney General Tom Horne said. “Law enforcement officers are held to a strict standard of conduct and this prosecution demonstrates that my office will vigorously pursue these matters to uphold the integrity of law enforcement in Arizona. I want to thank the Tucson office of the FBI for their excellent investigative work that helped make this prosecution successful.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas G. Price, Phoenix Division stated, “These guilty verdicts are an example of cooperation between the FBI and our law enforcement partners. It is critical to combat fraud at all levels, especially when it involves a law enforcement officer. Whenever a law enforcement officer breaks the law he is entrusted to uphold, it tarnishes the badge of those men and women who serve the public each day. The FBI is committed to investigating those individuals who conspire to defraud the public and hold them accountable for their illegal actions.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Mike Jette and Kim Ortiz.