April 25, 2014

Former Office Manager at Red Creek Municipal Utility District is Sentenced to 21 Months in Federal Prison for Embezzling Funds from District

LUBBOCK, TX—A San Angelo, Texas woman, who worked for a water utility service company in unincorporated Tom Green County was sentenced for embezzling approximately $43,000 from her employer, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

Melissa Manda Herrera, 38, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge Sam R. Cummings to 21 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $85,790 in restitution following her guilty plea in December 2013 to one count of theft concerning federally funded programs. Judge Cummings remanded her into the custody of the U.S. Marshal.

Herrera worked as the office manager of the Red Creek Municipal Utility District from April 2003 through February 2012. The district, which receives federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, was established in 1992 to provide water utility services to its customers. It is overseen by an elected, uncompensated board of directors, and it contracts with Concho Rural Water Corporation to manage the district’s water distribution system, conduct monthly readings of customers’ meters, and maintain the district’s customer billing records, which includes preparing and mailing monthly bills and posting customer payments based on information provided by the district’s office manager. The district employs only one person—the part-time office manager.

As part of her duties, Herrera was responsible for establishing customer accounts, handling customer payment issues, and collecting all customer payments. Herrera admitted that while she was office manager for the district, she did not include all customer payments in the daily deposits made at the bank and, in fact, kept customers’ cash payments for her own benefit.

The FBI, Tom Green County Sheriff’s Office, and San Angelo Police Department investigated. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ann Roberts led the prosecution.