Las Cruces woman sentenced to four years in prison for wire fraud and false tax returns


Date: July 22, 2022


Albuquerque, NM — Alexander M.M. Uballez, United States Attorney for the District of New Mexico, announced that Sandra Roberto was sentenced to four years and three months in prison for wire fraud and false and fraudulent tax returns. Roberto of Las Cruces, New Mexico, pleaded guilty on January 29, 2021.

According to the plea agreement and other court records, Roberto began working for Mesilla Valley Transportation (MVT) in 2009, first as a fuel clerk and later in the accounting office. Beginning in 2011 and continuing to 2018, Roberto exploited her position to embezzle approximately $1,130,215 from MVT.

MVT used third-party payment processors Comdata and EFS, for whom Roberto was the primary contact at MVT. Roberto would load cash advances onto debit cards used by MVT drivers, then contact Comdata or EFS for authorization codes to remove extra funds from the cards. Roberto would then use blank checks obtained from Comdata or EFS, enter the authorization codes and deposit the funds directly into her own bank account. From 2011 to 2018, Roberto deposited 1,735 such checks. Roberto the used the money for personal expenditures such as rent and the purchase of vehicles, flights, hotel accommodations and other items.

MVT discovered Roberto's embezzlement during an annual financial reconciliation in January 2018. When confronted, Roberto admitted to the embezzlement and was terminated from her position.

In her plea agreement, Roberto admitted that she knowingly failed to report any of the illegally embezzled funds as income to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For example, for 2017, Roberto embezzled $260,705 from MVT, but only reported $31,932 in income. The sum of Roberto's additional tax due from 2013 to 2018 is $250,473.

Upon her release from prison, Roberto will be subject to three years of supervised release. Additionally, Roberto has agreed to pay restitution to MVT in the amount of $1,130,215 and to the IRS in the amount of $250,473, for a total principal amount of $1,380,688.

The IRS Criminal Investigation and the Las Cruces Resident Agency of the FBI Albuquerque Field Office investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorneys Ry Ellison and Richard Williams prosecuted the case.