A fifty-one year old employee of Carnival Cruise Lines has been arrested for organized fraud and theft.
Miami resident Serafin Sanchez was arrested and booked on two criminal counts, described as organized theft of more than $50,000 and first degree fraud in excess of $100,000.
According to the arrest warrant, Mr. Sanchez is a shore-side employee of Carnival and worked as a "Crew Travel Coordinator." His responsibilities included booking airline flights for crewmembers signing on Carnival’s cruise ships around the world.
Carnival has two basic types of crew employees: (1) those who qualify for free fights to and from ports (salary employees), and (2) those who must pay for airline flights (non-salary employees). Mr. Sanchez is accused of defrauding Carnival Cruise Lines by using his knowledge and authority to book flights for non-salary crewmembers and charging Carnival’s travel account while keeping the money the crewmembers paid for the airline tickets.
The alleged scheme operated as follows:
A crewmember working on a Carnival ship would contact a head waiter on a cruise ship (identified as Rudy Saldana), who was known "to have a friend" (Mr. Sanchez) who could arrange reduced price airline tickets.
Mr. Sanchez would quote an arbitrary price for the ticket to Mr. Saldana who would communicate it to the crewmember. Mr. Saldana would then collect the money from the crew member. Mr. Saldana would deposit the money in his personal account to which Mr. Sanchez had access via a debit card. Mr. Sanchez would then purchase the airline ticket for the crewmember but would charge the price of the ticket to the Carnival travel account. Mr. Sanchez would allegedly pocket the money collected from the crewmember.
The arrest affidavit further alleges that Mr. Sanchez operated this "organized scheme" to defraud Carnival of approximately $132,000.00 from June to September 2011. Mr. Sanchez did not reimburse Carnival Cruise Lines any of cash collected from the non-salaried cruise employees.
Mr. Sanchez pled not guilty to the allegations. He is out on a $20,000 bond. His defense counsel is Joel DiFabio whose office released the following statement:
"We are actively cooperating and working with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office in an attempt to resolve this matter as quickly as possible."
Photo credit: Mugshot via whosarrested.com