Ecorse man pleads guilty to stealing more than $1M from employer

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Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-24 17:08:21-04

(WXYZ) — A man from Ecorse admitted to stealing more than $1 million from his employer over eight years, according to U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider.

Philip E. Garza, 52, pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection to the theft of $1,139,718 from his employer, Hankyu Hanshin Express (HHE) in Taylor, Michigan.

Garza was an ocean export specialist for the company.

While employed for the company in 2006, Garza filed an assumed name certificate for “El Centro Express” and opened a bank account, then rented a post office box under the name “Phillip E. Garza, dba El Centro Express.”

As part of the defrauding scheme, Garza created invoices in the name of El Centro Express, which were made to appear to be a third-party shipper, a release states.

The 2,310 invoices Garza submitted were fraudulent. He received 389 checks totalling $1,139,718, and deposited them into his “dba El Centro Express” account at PNC Bank. He used the funds for personal expenses.

He now faces between 41 to 51 months in federal prison for the crime, and is ordered to pay restitution to his former employer for the full amount taken.

He'll be sentenced Sept. 29.