Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook announced that a federal grand jury has returned a 25-count indictment charging Melissa H. Sepulvado, 58, of Zwolle, Louisiana, with committing wire fraud.
The indictment alleges that Sepulvado and her husband were both employed by Weyerhaeuser Company (“Weyerhaeuser”) at the company’s mill located in Zwolle, Louisiana. Sepulvado was employed as a Senior Support Specialist and her husband was employed as an hourly worker. Her primary duties were to review and approve payroll entries for the hourly workers at the Weyerhaeuser’s Zwolle mill through its internet based electronic payroll system.
It is alleged in the indictment that from November 2014 through April 2017, Sepulvado devised a scheme to defraud and obtain money from Weyerhaeuser using interstate wire communications, including the transmission of electronic payroll information. Sepulvado regularly entered fraudulent vacation hours on her husband’s time sheet and submitted electronic pay requests for those hours by means of an interstate wire communication in interstate commerce. Although her husband was eligible to receive 200 hours of paid vacation time each calendar year, Sepulvado entered and approved over 4,000 hours of paid vacation time for her husband for the calendar year 2016 alone. Sepulvado took steps to conceal the fraudulent pay requests by backdating the paid vacation hours to completed pay periods.
The indictment further alleges that these fraudulent pay requests submitted by Sepulvado caused Weyerhaeuser to pay over $145,000 in unearned wages to her husband, which unearned wages were taken and controlled by Sepulvado.
An indictment is merely an accusation and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI is conducting the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cadesby B. Cooper is prosecuting the case.