Manuel (Manny) Fuentez, 27, former Chaves County Detention Center finance officer, was arrested, Thursday, on one count of fraudulent use of a credit card and four counts of fraudulent transfer or receipt of a credit card. The credit cards used are Wright Express, specifically used to purchase gas for CCDC transport vehicles.
According to the criminal complaint, Fuentez left CCDC in May under a cloud of suspicion after irregularities were discovered in his handling of personnel payroll.
The court records indicate that Fuentez used the county-issued credit card to purchase $2,555.35 [auth] worth of gasoline in August and $2,647.10 worth in September.
When discrepancies and excessive charges were noted in card use, Sandra Stewart, CCDC administrator, issued a recall of all cards. Every card was returned except the specific card used by Fuentez.
The investigation by the Chaves Country Sheriff’s Office has been ongoing since September.
“Detective Perham conducted some 20 to 30 interviews and viewed surveillance footage where gas was purchased,” said Sgt. Daniel Ornelas.
Ornelas explained the gasoline purchased with the card was not only for Fuentez’s personal use. “He used the card for profit.”
The court records show that Fuentez approached family and friends, offering them the use of a “discount card,” which provided half-price gasoline. Various people took him up on the offer. They took temporary possession of the card and filled up their vehicles. Each was expected to return the receipts and their half-price payment.
Tracing the purchases back to the stores, provided surveillance video where Fuentez and his wife Jennifer where seen using the card to fill up their personal vehicles.
The video also allowed law enforcement to track other vehicles involved in the scam by license plates and registration numbers.
“I am disappointed that a former employee would do this,” said Stewart.
The single count of fraudulent use of a credit card is a third-degree felony. The four counts of fraudulent transfer or receipt of a credit card are fourth-degree felonies. A third-degree felony can carry a sentence up to three years imprisonment; the sentence for fourth-degree felonies is up to 18 months in a prison facility for each count.