TEXAS–Seven San Antonio-based individuals are accused of various charges in relation to an estimated $1.6 million wire fraud scheme, according to a recently unsealed federal indictment.
46-year-old Lea Ann Blystone, a resident of Boerne, was charged with eight counts of wire fraud; 12 counts of forged endorsements; and two counts of witness tampering. She is owner and managing partner of HipDingo stores in several Texas cities and the former marketing director of the companies Rinco and Rockin’ J Ranch. Blystone’s ex-husband, 49-year-old Michael J. Webb, a resident of San Antonio, was charged with three counts of wire fraud and two counts of witness tampering. He was a Rockin’ J contractor.
Three other individuals allegedly involved in the scheme were charged with three counts of wire fraud each.
The indictment, unsealed on March 10, accuses Blystone of creating and carrying out a scheme to defraud several companies, one of which was Rockin’ J. From January 2009 through August 2011, Blystone allegedly used false pretenses to make a profit from the companies with help from several other defendants.
Because Blystone was the marketing director of Rinco and Rockin’ J, she was in charge of managing promotional booths and displays at malls, events, and shows. Her responsibilities included coordinating payments for staff and vendors. The indictment accuses Blystone of writing checks from Rinco and Rockin’ J that were for amounts far greater than the actual operation cost of vendor booths and displays. She would also allegedly forge the names of payees on the back of “staffing” checks that she caused the companies to dispense.
At times, Blystone reportedly caused Rinco and Rockin’ J to write checks out when no promotional event had even taken place at the stated location.
The checks, which were deposited into a bank account under Blystone’s control, were subsequently divided up between defendants, who had not worked at any events or promotional displays. Sometimes Blystone would take a portion of the proceeds and use it to support her business, HipDingo, according to the indictment.
Once an investigation was ongoing into the scheme, Blystone and Porter went to great lengths to hide their alleged illegal activity. The pair allegedly told an individual to give false information to law enforcement on two separate occasions.
Blystone and defendants are estimated to have illegally received $1,597,708 as a result of the scheme, according to federal investigators. If found guilty, the defendants could face lengthy prison sentences. Each fraud and witness tampering charge could sentence 20 years in federal prison and each forgery charge could add up to 10 years in federal prison.
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