A former supervisor at a Prosser farm is accused of stealing money by having paychecks issued to two field workers long after they left.
Juan M. Sanchez, 40, allegedly had the workers pick false names, with records showing the farm paid out at least $58,600 over about 1 1/2 years.
Sanchez pleaded innocent Thursday to one count of first-degree theft in Benton County Superior Court. Trial is set for Sept. 28.
The charge includes the aggravating circumstance that it was a major economic crime that involved a loss greater than is typical for theft, a high degree of planning over a lengthy period of time, or Sanchez using his position of trust or financial responsibility to commit.
The case was filed in February 2014.
A nationwide warrant with $100,000 bail was issued for Sanchez at the time because Benton County sheriff’s deputies could not locate him. He recently was arrested in California, waived extradition to Benton County and posted bond on the bail amount.
Oasis Farms’ owner Brenton Roy confronted Sanchez in 2013 after noticing that two former employees still were receiving paychecks, according to court documents.
Sanchez quit after being questioned by his boss, and relatives reported that he moved to California.
Detectives tracked down two field workers who claimed Sanchez had told them to choose from two other names while working on the farm.
One man said he worked under one name for three months, then switched to the second name for several more months. The second worker claimed he used just one of the names for about five to seven months.
Paychecks totaling $32,596 were issued in one name between the fall of 2011 and June 2013, and $26,026 for the second name from May 2012 to June 2013, documents show.