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Ex-BLM Employee Sentenced for Theft of Government Funds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 20, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon sentenced Maria Lana Gilbert for embezzling funds from her employer, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Salem District Office (SDO), between 2007 and 2011.  A felony information, dated September 13, 2013, charged Gilbert with one count of theft of government funds.  On November 13, 2013, pursuant to a plea agreement, Maria Gilbert pleaded guilty to the single count of theft of government funds.  U.S. District Judge Simon sentenced Gilbert to two years of probation, including six months of home detention, and full restitution to BLM in the amount of $41,276.33.

In pleading guilty, Gilbert admitted that between September 1, 2007 and May 1, 2011, she knowingly stole and converted to her own use BLM funds using her government issued credit card to purchase items and gift cards for her personal use.

 Historically, supervisors in the BLM and the SDO provided employees with gift cards as performance awards.  BLM awards included gift cards for specific merchants and general use gift cards that could be used with any merchant capable of processing debit or credit card purchases.  SDO authorized defendant Gilbert to purchase gift cards with her government credit card from merchants in Oregon and from retail Internet sites to be used as part of the reward program. 

BLM undertook an agency-wide audit of the gift card program in 2010, including a review of Gilbert’s purchases, which resulted in the suspension of Gilbert’s government credit card in May 2011.  The BLM investigation into Gilbert’s purchases revealed that she used her government issued credit card to buy items and gift cards totaling at least $41,276.33 for her personal use.  Records from merchants confirmed that Gilbert submitted fraudulent receipts to her supervisor in an effort to hide the items she purchased for personal use.

According to the terms of the plea agreement, in addition to her sentence and restitution order, Gilbert resigned from the BLM effective November 13, 2013, and if Gilbert seeks future employment with any other federal agency, she must disclose the facts and details of this conviction.  Also pursuant to the plea agreement, Gilbert paid the full amount of restitution to BLM at the time of sentencing.

BLM’s Office of Law Enforcement and Security investigated this case.  Assistant U. S. Attorney Donna Brecker Maddux handled the prosecution.

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