How an Ecorse Man Embezzled $1 Million from His Employer Over 8 Years

June 24, 2020, 3:09 PM by  Allan Lengel


Phillip E. Garza, 52, was an ocean export specialist for a logistics company in Taylor that arranges freight shipments in North America and abroad.

Over eight years, he figured out how to embezzle more than $1 million from his employer, Hankyu Hanshin Express, federal authorities say. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty.

Garza will be sentenced on Sept. 29. Under the plea agreement, he faces a guideline range of 41-51 months in prison. He must also pay restitution. 

Garza arranged shipments through third-party shippers. In 2006, he filed an assumed name certificate for El Centro Express and opened a bank account and rented a post office box under the name “Phillip E. Garza, dba El Centro Express.” El Centro Express conducted no business and was a shell company, the U.S. Attorney's Office says.

Garza created 2,310 bogus invoices in the name of El Centro Express, which was made to look like a third-party shipper. In return, he received 389 checks totaling $1,139,718.

He deposited the checks into his bogus business account at PNC Bank and used the money for personal expenses.  

It was a successful scheme until it wasn't. 

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