News and Press Releases

former federal employee indicted for $113,000 scheme to steal from co-workers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Septembe 26, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tammy Dickinson, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced today that a former IT specialist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture has been indicted by a federal grand jury for a scheme to steal $113,000 from three co-workers, one of whom is blind.

Paula M. Steen, 49, of Overland Park, Kan., was charged in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013. Steen was employed by the USDA Farm Service Agency at the USDA Beacon Federal Office Facility, 6501 Beacon Drive, Kansas City, Mo.

The federal indictment alleges that Steen engaged in a scheme to steal from her co-workers at USDA over a four-year period, from Dec. 30, 2008, until she resigned under pressure on Dec. 29, 2012. According to the indictment, the scheme resulted in an attempted loss of at least $113,282 and an actual loss of $103,682.

The indictment alleges that Steen charged $57,693 on the credit accounts of one co-worker (identified in the indictment as “S.S.”), who is legally blind. Steen later repaid $18,278 of that amount to creditors. Steen also attempted to borrow $2,600 in the co-worker’s name, the indictment says, but after submitting the personal loan application to a financial institution, she later withdrew it. According to the indictment, Steen also secured four personal loans from this co-worker totaling $48,171, which she did not repay.

The indictment also alleges that Steen 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 the indictment as “R.H.”) Steen also attempted to illegally transfer another $2,000, according to the indictment.

The indictment also alleges that Steen attempted to open a joint credit card account in the name of a third co-worker (identified in the indictment as “J.S.”), using his Social Security number and date of birth without his authorization.

The federal indictment charges Steen with two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.

The indictment also contains a forfeiture allegation, which would require Steen to forfeit $103,682, which represents the actual loss to the victims of her scheme.

Dickinson cautioned that the charges contained in this indictment are simply accusations, and not evidence of guilt. Evidence supporting the charges must be presented to a federal trial jury, whose duty is to determine guilt or innocence.

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.

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