Former Federal Employee Pleads Guilty to $113,000 Scheme to Steal from Co-workers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former IT specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture pleaded guilty in federal court today to a scheme to steal $113,000 from three co-workers, one of whom is blind.
Paula M. Steen, 49, of Overland Park, Kan., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Gary A. Fenner to wire fraud. Steen was employed as an IT specialist for the USDA Farm Service Agency at the USDA facility at 6501 Beacon Drive, Kansas City, Mo.
By pleading guilty today, Steen admitted that she engaged in a wire fraud and identity theft scheme to steal from her co-workers at USDA over a four-year period, from Dec. 30, 2008, to Dec. 29, 2012. Steen attempted to steal at least $113,282; the actual loss totaled $103,682. Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Steen must pay a money judgment of $103,682.
Steen admitted that she charged $57,693 on the credit accounts of one co-worker (identified in court documents as “S.S.”), who is legally blind. Steen later repaid $18,278 of that amount to creditors. Steen also secured four personal loans from this co-worker totaling $48,171, which she did not repay. Steen attempted to borrow $2,600 in the co-worker’s name, but after submitting the personal loan application to a financial institution, she later withdrew it.
Steen admitted that she illegally transferred $16,096 from another co-worker’s credit union account to her own creditors and to her own bank account. (This co-worker is identified in court documents as “R.H.”) Steen also attempted to illegally transfer another $2,000.
Steen attempted to open a joint credit card account in the name of a third co-worker (identified in court documents as “J.S.”), using his Social Security number and date of birth without his authorization.
Under federal statutes, Steen is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole, plus a fine up to $250,000 and an order of restitution. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel M. Nelson. It was investigated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Officer of Inspector General.