MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Investigators said they caught-on to a trio that stole more than $2 million from the Miami-Dade County’s aviation department.
Elena Iglesias, 45, her husband Lazario Iglesias, 47, and co-worker Malena Rodriguez, 47, are accused of using “shadow” bank accounts to divert money into personal bank accounts $2.19 million worth of lounge vouchers provided by various airlines and meant for Miami-Dade Aviation.
“They became greedy, and stole more than 2 million dollars from the Miami-Dade Aviation department,” Katherine Fernandez Rundle, State Attorney.
Elena Iglesias, is a 20-year employee of a firm contracted by Miami International Airport that operates an exclusive lounge for fliers.
The trio is accused of using the money to pay off credit card bills which included $546,008 in American Express debts in addition to car loans, prepaid college accounts and mortgages.
According to investigators, the alleged money laundering took place between January 2012 and February 2014.
“You’re probably going to ask us is there more? More years. The answer is probably. But we wanted to stop the bleeding now. The detectives did not want it to go any further,” added Fernandez Rundle.
International Airport Management Inc., has operated Club American, an invitation-only waiting area offering private work stations, Internet cable TV, showers and a complimentary full bar since 1999.
“You don’t steal from the airport. You don’t steal from the traveling public. You don’t steal from the taxpayers. You don’t steal from our airline partners and you don’t steal at all,” said Emilio Gonzalez, the Airport Director.
Officials said the scheme first started with airliners supplying special passengers with vouchers to use at Club America. Passengers would then turn in those vouchers at the entrance to “IAMI”, which billed the airlines.
Then, the airlines paid with company checks. The management firm was supposed to deposit those checks directly into an account belonging to Miami-Dade Aviation. But investigators believe, for two years, the Iglesiases and Rodriguez deposited the money into their own Wells Fargo accounts.
The investigation found that money allegedly stolen by the trio came from 11 airline carriers, including $1.1 million from Swiss International Airlines, $347,000 from Taca International Airlines, and $279,000 from Virgin Atlantic Airways.
The three are charged with organized fraud, grand theft and money laundering.