Horacio Lomeli, a 12-year veteran of the Department of Public Safety, and his wife, Carmen Lomeli, have been convicted 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.
The jury trial started on July 9, 2013 in Santa Cruz County Superior Court and 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.
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.
The Defendants are facing mandatory prison ranges between 4.5 – 23 years on each felony count.
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.”