AP NEWS

Ex-Rockwell employee gets 18 months in $313K embezzlement

July 14, 2016 GMT

A Florida man who stole up to $313,000 from Milwaukee-based Rockwell Automation through a bogus travel booking business was sentenced Thursday to 18 months behind bars.

Eduardo Africano, 50, who worked as the manager of contracts and negotiations for Latin America operations at Rockwell before he was fired May 1, 2014, will have to repay more than $193,000 in restitution fees, in addition to the $120,000 already paid, totaling the dollar amount he embezzled from the company.

Africano asked Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner to consider his four children, his home in Florida and his two jobs as reasons to forgo time behind bars.

“Incarceration would be the easy road,” Africano said. “But paying this (restitution) back would be the harder road.”

Africano created Omega World Inc., in 2008, a fictitious company through which Africano claimed to book business travel to Latin America.

Charges Rockwell repaid to Omega World Inc. for business travel claims were automatically rerouted to Africano’s Bank of America personal account.

Africano used the money for personal travel for his friends and family, to pay off his mortgage and for other personal expenses.

Airline tickets and hotels were booked for Africano and his family to places like Cancun, Mexico and Monterey, Calif.

To cover several ticket charges through American Airlines, he made excuses like “change fee due to flight change” and “computer froze and clicked several times on same purchase. Credit issued and being used for new travel.”

Africano charged the company’s credit card for resort vacations to Puerto Rico and Cancun with a woman named Viviane Dara, who is neither Africano’s wife nor a Rockwell employee.

The company’s Latin America General Counsel, Gary Ballesteros, said Rockwell Automation does not conduct business in Puerto Rico.

“The nature of defendant Africano’s relationship with Ms. Dara is suspicious,” the criminal complaint says.

Under the alias Eduardo Orozco, Africano was charged with possession of cocaine in 1987 and forgery in 1990 in Harris County, Texas.

In addition to the 18 months in prison Africano is to serve three years of extended supervision.