SAN DIEGO – Richard Mendoza, the formerÂ Chief Executive OfficerÂ (â€œCEOâ€) of Pioneers Memorial HealthcareÂ District (â€œPMHDâ€) in Brawley, California, pled guilty yesterday to embezzling more than $90,000 from theÂ Pioneers Hospital.
According to court documents, Mendoza served as CEO of PMHD from October 2001, until hisÂ termination in November 2011. Mendozaâ€™s embezzlement activity was initially discovered by Pioneers in the fall of 2011, during an annual audit of expenses and disbursements.
TheÂ FBI subsequently initiated an investigation that uncovered the extent of Mendozaâ€™s embezzlement activity. According to court documents, while CEO, Mendoza submitted more than 30 fraudulentÂ reimbursement requests for trainings, seminars and conferences that he never attended. As set forth in hisÂ plea agreement, Mendoza filled out registration forms indicating that he had paid for this training with hisÂ personal credit card, when in fact he had not. To conceal the fact that he had not actually paid for theÂ conferences, Mendoza took advantage of his position as the hospitalâ€™s top executive and directedÂ employees in PMHDâ€™s Accounts Payable Department to reimburse his personal credit card account basedÂ only on these fraudulent registration forms (and without any additional proof of payment).
At the time he submitted each false reimbursement request, Mendoza knew that he had not registered for the medical conferences, was not planning to attend the medical conferences, and had notÂ used his personal credit card to pay for the attendant registration costs. To the contrary, Mendoza wouldÂ often be seen around the hospital on the dates he was supposedly attending these out-of-town conferences.
For example, on one occasion Mendoza submitted a fraudulent reimbursement request for a medicalÂ conference in New York City, but instead attended a PMHD Board of Directors meeting in Brawley onÂ the date of the conference.
As part of his plea agreement, Mendoza agreed to pay more than $90,000 inÂ restitution to the hospital.
United States Attorney Laura E. Duffy praised the hard work of the agents from the FederalÂ Bureau of Investigation and emphasized her support for financial crime prosecutions: â€œMr. MendozaÂ violated the trust of his employer and the people he served in the community. Todayâ€™s guilty plea is yetÂ another example of our commitment to investigate and prosecute those who illegally use their position ofÂ trust to unlawfully enrich themselves.â€
FBI Special Agent in Charge, Daphne Hearn, commented, â€œTodayâ€™s plea agreement is a directÂ result of the commitment and teamwork between the FBI and the U.S. Attorneyâ€™s Office to hold thoseÂ accountable who use their position of trust to unjustly line their own pockets.â€
Mendoza is scheduled to be sentencedÂ on October 25, 2013, at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District JudgeÂ John A. Houston.