Woman accused in theft of $200,000 from employer

Federal prosecutors allege a Baton Rouge woman stole $220,772 from her employer between August 2009 and June 2012.

Theresa L. Gomez, 53, did not return a request for comment left on her answer machine Monday.

The former escrow officer at a title company is accused of wire fraud by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Christopher Dippel Jr. in a bill of information filed late Friday.

The title company is identified in the charge only as “T.P.”

The charge alleges that on 291 occasions, Gomez fraudulently used her position and “access to T.P.’s trust account to unlawfully divert funds belonging to T.P. to her own personal use and the use of her family members.”

When the alleged scheme was discovered last year, Gomez resided in the 12400 block of Percival Avenue.

Dippel alleged that Gomez “would create fraudulent wire transfer orders giving (her) co-workers the false impression that the transfers were intended for payees to whom T.P. routinely transferred funds in the course of its business, such as banks and pest control companies that were involved in real estate transactions with T.P.”

Instead, Dippel alleged, the money was transferred to accounts controlled by Gomez and her husband, her daughter and son-in-law, and her son and daughter-in-law.

The federal case is assigned to the court of U.S. District Judge James J. Brady.

Records of the 19th Judicial District Court show the case also was investigated by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office.

An affidavit signed Sept. 4, 2012, by Detective Otto Harshbarger of the Financial Crimes Division, alleged that $90,289 of the title company’s money was wired by Gomez into “her own personal bank account.”

Harshbarger also alleged in his affidavit that an official with the title company reported Gomez “admitted stealing from the business.”

The same title company employee, Harshbarger said, provided a spreadsheet showing that Gomez distributed more than $92,000 in additional company money among “four other bank accounts belonging to relatives.”