Former manager gets jail time, must repay employer he defrauded
This story was provided by the Northwest News Partnership
A Tigard, man was sentenced Friday to 280 days in jail and required to pay full restitution for stealing more than $330,000 from a Vancouver roofing company, Vancouver's Northwest Roof Care & Construction, where he served as manager.
In an agreement with prosecutors, Mario M. Jasso, 65, pleaded guilty in Clark County Superior Court to six counts of second-degree theft. In exchange, the Clark County Prosecuting Attorney's Office agreed to drop charges of five counts of first-degree theft, money-laundering, eight counts of forgery, seven counts of first-degree identity theft and two counts of second-degree identity theft.
Judge David Gregerson said he accepted the plea deal only because it requires Jasso to repay the $331,938 he stole from the company.
"Basically, he'll be making payments for the rest of his life," said Sean Downs, Jasso's attorney.
Jasso, the company's former general manager, was accused of conspiring with another manager to open a bank account to hide the company's profits, according to a court affidavit.
The other manager has not been arrested because Clark County sheriff's detectives weren't able to develop enough evidence against him to make a case, said sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Fred Neiman.
After the death of company owner Earl Ray in 2012, his stepdaughter, Dena Hiscock of Florida, succeeded him as president. Jasso and the other man apparently opened the bank account because they wanted to make the company appear as if it were failing so that she would sell them the business, according to a court affidavit.
"(Jasso) had this job for a while," Downs said Friday. "It was a situation where the owner passed away and there was a question about who controlled the finances."
Jasso and the other manager reduced employees' wages while working state-mandated prevailing wage jobs in Longview, Olympia and Spokane, prompting an investigation by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, court documents say.
Meanwhile, they increased their own salaries without Hiscock's knowledge or authorization, court documents say.
"Because of Mr. Jasso's greed and deception, NW Roof Care owes over $1 million in back payroll taxes, wage taxes, excise taxes, unpaid vendor bills, bonding company obligations and obligations to three of our large commercial customers," Hiscock wrote in a victim's impact statement filed in court in December 2013.
She said that his actions had impacted at least 97 people, including the company's employees and customers, and the reputation of the 47-year-old company. About 18 employees had to be laid off, she said.
"Mr. Ray's wishes were to keep the company going so that his faithful employees would be able to provide for their families," she wrote.
Jasso also was convicted of theft in 2003 in Oregon, said Deputy Prosecutor Scott Ikata.
Paris Achen is a court reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash.