Paso Robles News|Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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FBI: Paso Robles man sentenced for role in phony payroll scheme 

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–A Paso Robles man pled guilty for his involvement in a phony payroll scheme in Texas, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Corpus Christi, Tex. office.

David Contreras, 40, of Paso Robles received a 12-month sentence. Another suspect in the case, Mohamad Sylla, pled guilty admitting he conspired with Jose Luis Briseno, 41, and Contreras to get a Houston oil production company to issue paychecks for work Contreras never completed and while he was not even employed at the company.

U.S. District Judge David S. Morales handed Sylla a 30-month sentence to be followed by three years of supervised release.

From Jan. 1 to Sept. 11, 2015, Briseno and Sylla were employed at the company as the service coordinator and South Texas region manager, respectively. The two men conspired to approve timesheets for Contreras even though he was no longer employed there. Briseno and Sylla ensured the timesheets were approved and payments issued. Once Contreras received the funds, he would split the paycheck with Briseno and Sylla. Briseno and Sylla additionally approved a series of fraudulent payments to fictitious vendors for services not provided.

The Houston oil production company paid out more than $400,000 as a result of the fraudulent schemes. Contreras, Briseno and Sylla then conspired to engage in monetary transactions using a portion of the funds.

Judge Morales ordered Briseno to a 27-month sentence to be immediately followed by two years of supervised release. Sylla was permitted to remain on bond and surrender at a later date to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility.

The FBI conducted the investigation. Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremy C. Fugate prosecuted the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Thorpe handled the sentencing which concluded in October 2020.

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