NATIONAL NEWS

Man pleads guilty to embezzling millions meant to fund Guatemala forestry projects

Feb 13, 2024, 10:03 AM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — A man who managed two forestry projects in Guatemala for a New Hampshire-based investment company has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing $10 million from the business.

Roberto Montano, of Guatemala, pleaded guilty Monday in Concord to wire fraud under an agreement with prosecutors that calls for a five-year prison sentence and restitution.

Montano, 58, managed the teak forestry projects for the businessfrom 2007 until 2014. Prosecutors say he began embezzling money from the project in 2009 and that he concealed his crimes by altering financial statements and moving funds between accounts.

The U.S. attorney’s office said Montano provided the company with a false bank statement reporting that one of the bank accounts had a cash balance of more than $1.1 million, when it was actually empty.

Montano became aware of an investigation in 2014 and left the U.S. to go back to Guatemala, and then Nicaragua, prosecutors said. He lived under an alias and was most recently working as a life coach and yoga instructor.

He was arrested in November at Miami International Airport.

Montano is scheduled to be sentenced on May 30.

A message seeking comment was left Tuesday with his lawyer, Behzad Mirhashem.

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Man pleads guilty to embezzling millions meant to fund Guatemala forestry projects