woman from Zwolle sentenced to federal prison for committing electronic fraud | USAO-WDLA

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SHREVEPORT, La. Melissa H. Sepulvado, 59, of Zwolle, Louisiana, was sentenced today by United States District Chief Justice S. Maurice Hicks, Jr. to 12 months and 1 day in prison, followed by 2 years at liberty supervised for wire fraud, Interim US Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook said. Sepulvado was also ordered to pay compensation in the amount of $ 145,000.

Sepulvado pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud on May 13, 2021. According to information presented to the court at the guilty plea hearing, Sepulvado and her husband were employed by Weyerhaeuser Company (“Weyerhaeuser”) in the company’s factory located in Zwolle, Louisiana. Sepulvado was employed as a senior support specialist and had worked in the company for 17 years, and her husband was employed as an hourly worker. Its main tasks were to review and approve payroll entries for hourly workers at the Weyerhaeuser Zwolle factory through its web-based electronic payroll system. In addition, it reviewed requests for paid time off from hourly workers. Vacation pay was a benefit service that Weyerhaeuser provided to some of its hourly employees, who earned vacation time based on seniority in the company and wages paid to them for the vacation they took.

From November 2014 to April 2017, Sepulvado defrauded Weyerhaeuser of $ 145,000 by exploiting his position and access to the payroll system. She regularly entered requests for paid time off for her husband for the hours he did not earn, and although she was not supposed to review or approve her husband’s pay requests, she approved them and sent the approved requests via wire transfer to their payroll department outside of Louisiana. Weyerhaeuser then deposited money into her husband’s bank account based on the fraudulent payroll claims. Sepulvado took steps to cover up the fraud by backdating many vacation payment requests, entering pay period requests that were completed months or years earlier. These actions masked requests for regular system audits.

The FBI investigated and US Assistant Prosecutor Cadesby B. Cooper continued the case.

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