FROM:
Amy Cornell, Public Information Officer   CONTACT PERSON:
Dale B. Lohman, Deputy District Attorney
Major Fraud Unit
(408) 792-2599   For release on January 8, 2009   FORMER CHEESE COMPANY EMPLOYEES ARRESTED FOR EMBEZZLEMENT   37-year old Jesse Lopez, and his wife, 37-year old Susanna Garza, of San Jose were arrested Monday, January 6th, on grand theft charges following an investigation by the Financial Crimes Unit of the San Jose Police Department.  A third defendant in the case, 36-year old Alejandro Cruz of San Jose was previously arrested on December 18, 2008.  Each defendant is charged with one felony count of grand theft and an excessive taking allegation pursuant to Penal Code section 12022.6(a)(2) (Taking more than $200,000).   Lopez and Cruz were employed by Marquez Brothers International, Inc. (MBI), a cheese distributor located in San Jose, California.  Lopez was a manager in the MIS department. Cruz was an IT specialist who worked for Lopez and was responsible for recommending equipment to be purchased by MBI. Garza owned and operated a company called Nor-Cal Processing located in San Jose.    It is alleged that in approximately February of 2007, Cruz approached the MBI Vice-President in charge of procurement and told her about a new company from which MBI could obtain equipment at a lower cost.  That company was Nor-Cal Processing.  Based on Cruz’ representation, MBI approved the change in vendor.   In reality, Cruz continued to purchase equipment from the original vendor.  Cruz then intercepted the invoices from that company (which is not charged with any wrongdoing) and gave them to Lopez who paid them using his personal credit card.  Lopez then gave the original invoices to Garza who generated new, inflated invoices for the same equipment in the name of Nor-Cal Processing.  Cruz personally delivered the inflated Nor-Cal invoices to the Accounts Payable department at MBI, received the checks made payable to Nor-Cal and delivered them to Lopez who gave them to his wife for deposit into her business account.  Between February of 2007 and September of 2008, MBI paid more than $676,000 to Nor-Cal.   The fraud was discovered when an employee in Accounts Payable at MBI noticed an invoice from the original vendor directed to Cruz’ attention and realized she had recently paid an invoice from Nor-Cal for the exact same equipment at a higher price.    Bail for each defendant is currently set at $100,000. If convicted on all charges, the defendants could face five years in state prison.  Their next court date on the case is January 23, 2009.    ###

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