Former employers testify about Abaroa's behavior

May. 06, 2013 @ 07:01 PM

Raven Abaroa ordered about $15,000 worth of soccer equipment from his employer and did not pay for it, which resulted in his arrest for embezzlement, according to a witness who testified in Abaroa's murder trial Monday.

Abaroa, 33, is standing trial for first-degree murder in the stabbing death of his wife, Janet Marie Christiansen Abaroa, 25, on April 26, 2005.

Ray Wilson was Abaroa's supervisor at Sports Endeavors, also known as Eurosport, which sells soccer and other sports equipment online.

When he interviewed Abaroa for a job, he seemed too good to be true, Wilson said. He was enthusiastic, had a computer background and a deep knowledge of soccer, Wilson said. He was hired to lead a team of about 15 to 20 people who worked with teams buying equipment.

Later, Janet Abaroa began working for Eurosport in the accounting department, he said.

The company had a coed soccer team that played in a parks and recreation league  and Abaroa joined the team. He was a hot-head, Wilson said.

"Usually a team has one or two like that, but he was ours," Wilson said.

At work, he was professional, enthusiastic and engaging, but on the soccer field, he was quick to anger and sometimes engaged in verbal or physical encounters with members of other teams.

"At work the next day, I sat him down and said you're reflecting poorly on the company," Wilson said.

Employees buying something from Eurosport received discounts, but they were limited to buying it for themselves, their immediate family or maybe as a gift, Wilson said. When they did order, they had to fill out a form and file it with the person at the front desk, who worked Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wilson said.

At some point, Wilson said he was informed Abaroa was placing orders at night or on the weekends, so the company began to look into his orders, and discovered that he had placed 22 orders for $18,000 worth of retail merchandise and had not paid for it.

Even as they were investigating, Abaroa, on vacation in Utah, placed two more orders, he said.

When he returned from his trip, the Hillsborough police were waiting for him at the office and placed him under arrest.

Later Abaroa could show that $3,000 of those orders was legitimate, but he was charged for embezzling $15,000 worth of retail merchandise and terminated, Wilson said. Janet Abaroa did not return to her job after her husband was arrested.

The investigation did not reveal that Janet Abaroa was involved in any of the crimes, he said.

Later, company officials discovered Abaroa had used a company credit card to buy an extra-large monitor for his computer at work. Abaroa told Wilson he paid for it with his own money.

Abaroa's next job was at an online college that taught medical coding for insurance purposes and other courses. His job was to sell potential students on the courses and sign them up. His first month, he exceeded his quota of $10,000, but his sales fell off in his second and third months. It was obvious he was not going to make his quota, which would cost him his job since he was still in his probationary period, said his supervisor, Sandy Gareton.

Yet he asked for days off at the end of April, she said.

On April 21, 2005, Abaroa said his son was sick and he had to meet his wife and son at the emergency room, Gareton said. The following day, he sent an email saying he was going to work at home.

On April 25, she didn't hear from him, and on April 26, Gareton said she was surprised to see him sitting at his desk. He had only sold $13,000 worth of courses, and his quota for the month was $40,000, she said.

When she asked him how he would meet the quota, he said, "Got my pink slip for me boss?" Gareton testified.

The next day, she received a call from Raven Abaroa's mother, who worked for the same company in Utah, who told her that Janet Abaroa had committed suicide.