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Rancho Cordova embezzlement case ends in prison term for Thomas Tanke

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Thomas Tanke, 68, previously of El Dorado Hills, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Edward J. Garcia to five years and 10 months in prison, to be followed by five years of supervised release, U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced. Garcia ordered Tanke to pay $243,403 in restitution to the victims of his crimes. A federal jury in Sacramento found Tanke guilty in November 2011 of two counts of mail fraud and five counts of bank fraud for embezzling funds from his employer. This case was the product of an investigation by the FBI and the Sacramento County Sheriff?s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Robert Tice-Raskin and Russell L. Carlberg prosecuted the case. According to court documents and trial testimony, Tanke was vice president of Azteca Construction Inc. (Azteca) from July 1999 until his resignation in July 2004. He oversaw the company?s East Coast Division operations from Azteca?s corporate office in Rancho Cordova and conducted construction management for various California projects. Construction Equipment Rental & Services (CERS) owned much of the construction equipment and trucks that Azteca leased in its operations. Tanke used a variety of means to defraud both Azteca and CERS. First, Tanke embezzled funds from Azteca and CERS by depositing checks made out to these companies into his own bank account. Second, he defrauded Azteca by using Azteca checking accounts to pay for his own personal expenses. As part of this fraud, Tanke frequently submitted false invoices and check request forms to suggest that the payments were for legitimate company expenses. Finally, Tanke made a series of unauthorized expenditures using Azteca credit cards, likewise to pay for his own personal expenses. As a result of the fraud, he obtained more than $242,000. After the fraud, Tanke presented false testimony related to his conduct both to the United States Bankruptcy Court during the course of bankruptcy proceedings related to Azteca and to the U.S. District Court during his criminal trial for these charges. Tanke continued his fraudulent conduct after leaving Azteca by concealing from an employer a previous fraud conviction from 1981 and falsifying his education credentials. Tanke has been in custody since the jury returned its verdict. In sentencing, Garcia observed that Tanke committed perjury at trial by offering incredible testimony, which was one reason why it took the jury only a few hours to convict him. ~ Staff report