Suspects accused of obtaining nearly $62,000 in checks

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FARMINGTON — Three woman are accused of fraudulently obtaining nearly $62,000 in checks from a Farmington Burger King restaurant, and the attorney for one of the suspects believes his client was directed to conduct the alleged crimes.

Yesenia Leyva-Nevarez, 30; Maria Leyva, 55, and Katie Rascon, 24, are accused of multiple charges, including felony counts of fraud for allegedly obtaining fraudulent checks while working at the Burger King restaurant at 948 E. Main St. in Farmington, according to court documents.

Leyva-Nevarez is accused of four second-degree felonies including racketeering, and conspiracy for allegedly obtaining about $37,320 in fraudulent checks.

Leyva, Leyva-Nevarez's mother, is accused of a second-degree felony of racketeering and third-degree felony counts of fraud and conspiracy for obtaining about $11,590 in fraudulently checks.

Rascon is also accused of computer access with intent to defraud along with allegedly obtaining about $13,030 in fraudulently checks.

Steve Murphy, Leyva-Nevarez's attorney, said evidence will show in his client's case a district manager for Redrock Foods Ltd. hired employees that lived in the United States illegally.

He added the district manager directed managers at Burger Kings to cash the checks for those employees in order to pay them.

Burger King did not respond to requests for comment.

Anthony Josephson, a co-owner of Redrock Food Ltd., declined comment on the allegations. He added the company is fully cooperating with law enforcement on the investigation.

Murphy stated he is looking forward to the charges in Leyva-Nevarez's case being dismissed, adding his client did not financially benefit from the alleged crimes.

Arlon Stoker, Rascon's attorney, said he did not believe his client was guilty of the crimes and he looks forward to appearing in court on the case.

Leyva's warrant is still active and she has not been arrested, according to Farmington Police Department spokesperson Georgette Allen.

The three cases are similar to the accusations levied against Denise Garcia-Quintana.

She is a former Bloomfield Burger King manager who was charged on July 31 and accused of obtaining about $181,000 using a Utah woman's Social Security number to receive wages and using fraudulent checks from the business.

Leyva-Nevarez was the General/Restaurant Manager for the Burger King and Rascon was the Assistant Manager at the time of the alleged crimes.

A vice president from the Burger King franchisee told Farmington Police his Farmington managers were issuing checks to employees who no longer worked at the stores.

He added managers would take the checks, cash them at the bank and pocket the funds.

During an interview with a Farmington detective on Dec. 15, 2016, Leyva-Nevarez said she was cashing checks for employees who did not have bank accounts.

Both Rascon and Leyva-Nevarez quit their jobs the following day.

The detective examined the bank records for the three suspects as part of the investigation.

Leyva-Nevarez is accused of cashing 99 fraudulent checks from July 2015 to November 2016.

Rascon allegedly cashed 37 fraudulent checks and Leyva is accused of cashing 31 fraudulent checks.

Rascon's first appearance in Farmington Magistrate Court is set for Aug. 27.

Leyva-Nevarez's preliminary hearing was continued to Sept. 12 in Farmington Magistrate Court.

Joshua Kellogg covers crime, courts and social issues for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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