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Police: Man embezzled $20,000 from landscaping company

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An Albuquerque landscaper is facing embezzlement and fraud charges after he allegedly stole more than $20,000 from his contractor by asking customers to make checks out to him instead of the company he worked for.

Police said Gary Mares, 63, received checks of up to almost $8,000 from customers for landscape designs, and many of them complained to him that they hadn’t received any of the landscaping they paid for when Mares’ boss became suspicious, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Metropolitan Court.

Most of those complaints, like the checks, went to Mares directly, so the company he worked for was unaware that there were any issues, according to the complaint.

The alleged embezzlement occurred between April 2013 and March 2014 and more than a dozen customers are suspected to have been victims, police said.

Mares told his employers that he was using the money to pay off personal debt.

Mares, who is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Center, on a $35,000 cash or surety bond, is facing charges of embezzlement over $20,000 and fraud over $2,500.