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Ontario Man Gets 3 Years for Fraud

November 25, 2003|Kristina Sauerwein | Times Staff Writer

A federal judge Monday sentenced an Inland Empire man to 37 months in prison for masterminding a scheme to siphon money from his employer and direct funds to his softball teammates.

U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew in Los Angeles also ordered Angel Uribe, 33, of Ontario to pay $298,000 in restitution to his former employer in West Covina, a subsidiary of CNA Financial Co.

A second defendant, Jorge Riesgo, 39, of Pico Rivera, was sentenced Monday to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution for his involvement in the scheme.

"The court imposed a just sentence," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael Raphael, who had worked on the case since 2000.

Uribe pleaded guilty in February to mail fraud and money laundering, acknowledging that he funneled fraudulent payments to fake companies that his friends, including Riesgo, had created to receive the money.

Uribe, who worked as a claims supervisor for the CNA subsidiary, issued checks purportedly for vocational rehabilitation services provided by the sham companies.

A spokesman for CNA Financial declined to comment Monday.

Once Uribe's friends cashed the checks, authorities said, they gave him up to half the money. Many of the friends played softball with Uribe, and returned the money in cash during the weekly games.

From 1996 to September 1998, Uribe issued more than 300 fraudulent checks, worth more than $400,000. Nearly half the checks were funneled to the sham companies Riesgo had set up.

Riesgo, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud in February, paid Uribe about 40% of the funds he received.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the criminal investigation unit of the Internal Revenue Service headed the case.

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