Family accused of stealing $13M from energy firm

Brian Rogers

Houston Chronicle

June 6, 2011

Harris County prosecutors today said a former accountant and several members of her family stole more than $13 million from a Houston oil and gas company over 10 years.

Nancy Moreno is accused of paying dummy accounts with company money while working at Davis-Lynch, an oilfield service company. Moreno set up the bogus accounts to funnel money to herself and several relatives.

"She was a trusted employee," said prosecutor Wendy Baker. "It took years to build that trust, and every single day when she went to work she stole money from them."

In 2008, a copier missing from Davis-Lynch was discovered at a business owned by Moreno's son.

Moreno was fired, and investigators going through the books found several fake vendor accounts with names similar to legitimate vendors.

Those vendor accounts were traced to Moreno and family, Baker said.

Moreno, who began working at the company in 1997, had hired her daughter, her daughter-in-law and her sister-in-law, according to court records. Other family members were setting up fake companies, Baker said. Checks started going to those companies in 1998, court records show.

"These were cash transactions, checks that were written to unauthorized vendors," Baker said. "These companies they created were nothing but shells."

Baker was in court Monday for the arraignment of Moreno's brother-in-law, Ernest Trevino, and his wife Yvette Trevino, who were arrested Friday.

Philip Hilder, an attorney for the Trevinos, declined to comment, saying he will argue the couple's case in court.

Moreno's daughter, Alicia Saldana Pucek, was arrested last week in Kerrville.

Investigators are seeking Moreno; Pucek's husband, Ronald Wayne Pucek; Moreno's son, Noe Kent Saldana; and his wife, Brooke Saldana.

Each of the suspects faces life in prison if convicted of the first-degree felony of theft of more than $200,000.