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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 5, 2015

Former Georgia Department Of Corrections Employees And Accomplice Indicted For Stealing State Restitution Funds

ATLANTA - Tammi Stephens, Daynna Gregory, and Richard Cantrell have been arraigned on federal charges of theft of public funds and conspiracy stemming from an alleged check fraud scheme to steal from a victims’ restitution fund controlled by the Georgia Department of Corrections, where Stephens and Gregory worked until recently. 

“These defendants are charged with stealing from a fund set up to compensate victims of crime,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn.  “At the time of their alleged actions, Stephens and Gregory were Georgia Department of Corrections employees, holding positions in which they were responsible for issuing checks to crime victims.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated: “The allegations contained within this federal indictment involve a serious breach of trust by these defendants.  The FBI remains committed toward investigating and presenting for prosecution those individuals who would use their positions of trust within government for personal gain.”

“The abuse of public trust by Stephens and Gregory as state employees, and their betrayal of the victims we serve are actions that won’t be tolerated,” said Homer Bryson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections.  “We appreciate the swift response by the FBI, and the diligence of our staff in identifying this serious breach.  We are committed to fully cooperating and assisting with the investigation and prosecution of these former employees,” added Bryson.

According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the indictment, and other information presented in court: From September 2013 to June 2014, Stephens and Gregory used their positions as clerks in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ banking unit to issue fraudulent checks drawn on a fund established to provide restitution to victims of other crimes.  The indictment further alleges that Stephens and Gregory made the checks payable to a flower shop owned by Cantrell, who was not an employee of the Department.  The defendants purposely issued fraudulent checks to the flower shop in order create the appearance that the restitution checks were being paid to real crime victims.  After printing the fraudulent checks, Stephens and Gregory allegedly altered the Department’s financial records to hide their theft.  The fraudulent checks were then delivered to Cantrell, who cashed them and split the proceeds with Stephens and Gregory.  In total, the defendants allegedly stole more than $232,000, which they then spent at big box stores and department stores.
Tammi Stephens, 37, of Forsyth, Georgia, Daynna Gregory, 41, of Lithonia, Georgia, and Richard Cantrell, 54, of Marietta, Georgia were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 3, 2015.  All three defendants were arraigned this afternoon before Magistrate Judge E. Clayton Scofield, III.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges.  The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trevor C. Wilmot are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

Updated April 8, 2015