Michigan man who used fake company to defraud employer out of more than $1 million sentenced to prison

A Michigan man is headed to prison for defrauding his employer out of more than $1 million.

Phillip E. Garza, 53, of Ecorse, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. According to authorities, Garza was an ocean export specialist for Hankyu Hanshin Express (USA) Inc. (HHE), a transportation and logistics services company based in suburban Chicago that has a branch office in Taylor.

Garze's job included arranging the shipments of goods that were being transported by sea. Authorities said he created a shell company called El Centro Express. Using the fake third party shipper company, he submitted invoices to HHE from October 2011 through May 2019.

HHE issued 389 checks to El Centro Express and mailed them to a post office box Garza opened in Taylor.

Authorities said Garza used the money for personal expenses – he paid his credit card issuers about $80,000, made monthly car payments totaling about $55,000, and paid about $39,000 to phone companies and cable and Internet service providers. He also made payments on personal loans, paid medical expenses, and went out to restaurants.