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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD


Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html


AUGUST 10, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


FORMER USDA EMPLOYEE SENTENCED

FOR EMBEZZLING $160,000


            SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a former employee of the U.S. Department of Agriculture was sentenced in federal court today for stealing more than $160,000 from the rural development program she was employed to administer.


             Martha L. Shuler, 55, of Bolivar, Mo., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr this morning to two years in federal prison without parole. The court also ordered Shuler to pay $160,484 in restitution to the USDA.

             On May 4, 2007, Shuler pleaded guilty to embezzling money from the United States. Shuler was employed from 1979 through March 10, 2004, as a community development technician in the Springfield, Mo., office of the USDA. Her responsibilities included helping low-income individuals obtain loans and grants from USDA through its rural development program to acquire or improve a home.


             Shuler admitted that she began creating fictitious rural development loans and grants in July 2000, causing the proceeds to be diverted for her own benefit. Shuler also admitted that she diverted payments to the USDA, which were related to rural development loans, for her own benefit, and that she diverted the proceeds from legitimate rural development loans and grants for her own benefit.


             Despite the fact that a supervisor confronted Shuler on March 10, 2004, about a fictitious rural development loan, and subsequently recovered loan files (including two files for fictitious loans) from Shuler’s home, Shuler’s scheme continued through at least March 18, 2004.


            This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas C. Bunch. It was investigated by the Office of Inspector General – U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html