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Tuesday, August 6, 2013 - 12:20am
LAS CRUCES, N.M. — A police investigation of the City of Las Cruces Fleet Management Department found evidence four employees were committing fraud and falsifying invoices.
Albert Favela, 45, has been charged with four counts each of fraud and embezzlement, Edward Tellez, 46, and 34-year-old Inez Frank Giron are charged with two counts each of forgery and Christopher Bustamante, 45, faces one count of forgery.
"We detected some anomalies of things that were not done correctly," said Las Cruces City Manager Robert Garza.
A criminal complaint and statement of facts detail various instances where a "supervisor" asked employees to falsify work orders and bill the city for parts fitting makes and models of cars that in some cases the city doesn't even own.
Through a more than year-long police investigation there were several instances where Albert Favela told employees to falsify documents.
According to a statement of facts in May of 2012 a police officer brought in his car for an oil change and brake service.
The vehicle was assigned to Edward Tellez and records show Tellez requested four tires on a work order but never documented the tires were installed on the car.
In the statement he told investigators that was an instance where Favela told him to add those to the bill.
The cost of the tires was $365.44.
"The parts may have been obtained or purchased from the city but they were not going to the vehicles that they said they were going to," said LCPD Spokesperson Dan Trujillo.
On another instance the documents allege that on a Ford Crown Victoria brought in for an oil change, Inez Frank Giron documented he changed the fuel pump after noticing the car was stalling.
But the part number was for a 6-cylinder engine and does not fit the car's 8-cylinder engine.
"We just can't tolerate the type of thing that took place here," Garza said.
Garza added he doesn't have a total dollar figure on the losses but estimates it's likely in the tens of thousands of dollars.
He said the proper measure have been taken to prevent future crimes.
"We've changed our practices, our procedures and our control mechanisms and we now have made sure this sort of thing can not happen again," Garza said.