Following an FBI investigation, a Ketchum resident has been charged by the U.S. government with 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from unlawful activity.
Timothy Semones could face a maximum sentence of 30 years in a federal prison if convicted of all charges.
Semones is charged with transferring funds from a California-based company where he worked as chief financial officer to his personal company’s bank account and to that of his wife, Ketchum architect Susan Desko, between October 2017 and November 2018 to help fund construction of a home at 29 Lake Cree Drive north of Ketchum, according to a federal grand jury indictment filed Feb. 12.
Though Desko has not been charged criminally, she is a defendant along with her husband in a civil case alleging embezzlement from the same California-based tech company, Eta Compute.
The indictment states that Semones “knowingly devised, participated in, and intended to devise a scheme to defraud, as to material matters, Eta, and to obtain money and property belonging to Eta by means of materially false and fraudulent pretense, representations, and promises.”
In addition, Semones allegedly made false statements to Eta’s CEO about the location and balance of funds in the company’s bank account and allegedly emailed falsified bank records to the CEO to make it appear as if Eta’s account had more money than it actually did.
In total, Semones is alleged to have taken $3 million.
The civil lawsuit was filed in federal court in Idaho on Dec. 12, 2018, by Eta Compute, a software company based in Westlake Village, Calif. The complaint states that as chief financial officer, Semones “held significant responsibility for Eta’s finances.”
“In concert with his spouse, Semones abused that trust by stealing $3,000,000 from Eta to fund their lifestyle, which includes the ongoing construction of a multi-million-dollar home for themselves in Idaho,” the complaint states. “Half of the stolen amount has yet to be recovered or returned to Eta.”
The money transfers allegedly took place between Oct. 13, 2017, and Jan. 3, 2018.
According to the complaint, Semones admitted he “misappropriated” the money because he needed it to pay financing and construction costs for a property that he and Desko own and reside at. Semones denied that he and his wife reside at the residence in a response to the complaint dated Jan. 11, 2019.
The home is listed for sale on Zillow for $6.2 million. As of Feb. 1, a sale was pending.
In May 2018, Semones allegedly transferred $1.5 million from the account of his company—Inphi Partners LLC—to Eta’s bank account in an attempt to repay some of the money, according to the complaint.
“At the time, Semones correctly believed that Eta was still not aware that he had stolen any money,” the complaint states. “Semones first learned that Eta knew that money was missing on November 27, 2018.”
The CEO of Eta Compute allegedly noticed a $1.8 million discrepancy in the company’s bank account and inquired with Semones, who allegedly told him that there was over $2 million “in other accounts.” The CEO promptly asked for financial statements reflecting that. What the CEO received from Semones was allegedly a fake bank statement for Eta’s Wells Fargo bank account.
“They discovered that the statement from Semones had been doctored, falsified, and digitally edited to appear as if the account had an additional balance for $1,500,000 that did not actually exist,” the complaint states.
The CEO allegedly confronted Semones via telephone about the discrepancies in the statement he sent versus the statement received directly from Wells Fargo, and Semones allegedly admitted that he took the money and doctored the bank statement to conceal his theft, according to the complaint.
On Dec. 21, 2018, Idaho District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered that a writ of attachment be issued seizing all of Semones’ and Desko’s bank accounts until a final judgement is reached in the case. In addition, a writ of attachment and a lien was ordered by the court on Jan. 8, 2019, on five vehicles owned by Semones and Desko. Subsequently, Desko and Semones jointly filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 24, 2019.
Neither the civil case nor the bankruptcy case had been resolved as of Tuesday.
According to federal court documents, Semones was taken into custody and released on Feb. 13 in Ketchum. No hearing date for the criminal case had been scheduled as of Tuesday.