Dallas Woman Who Stole Nearly $65,000 From Three Federal Agencies And Fled To Kentucky Where She Continued Her Thefts Is Sentenced To Serve A Total Of 78 Months In Federal Prison
DALLAS — A 31-year-old woman, who stole nearly $65,000 from several federal programs, and in some instances, stole others’ identities to commit the thefts, was sentenced today, announced Acting U.S. Attorney John R. Parker of the Northern District of Texas.
Shakira Wells, who was a Dallas resident when she committed many of the offenses, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Sam A. Lindsay to serve a total of 78 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $64,845 in restitution. Wells pleaded guilty in July 2014 to a superseding information charging one count of theft of government funds and one count of aggravated identity theft. She has been in custody since her arrest in December 2013 on charges outlined in a federal indictment returned by a grand jury in Dallas in July 2013.
According to documents filed in the case, from November 2011 through October 2012, Wells stole Social Security Administration Title II Auxiliary Insurance benefits paid to her for the use of three minor children. These children, however, were in the care and custody of other relatives while Wells received their benefits and converted the funds to her own use.
In or around the same time, Wells also received and improperly converted funds from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for these three children who were in the care and custody of other relatives.
Again, during the same approximate period, Wells also fraudulently received Federal Family Educational Loan Program (FFELP) funds and Pell Grants from the Department of Education in the name of S.C. Wells applied for and received those funds using S.C.’s identity, but converted the funds to her own use.
Following these offenses, Wells relocated to Lexington, Kentucky, and while there, she assumed other identities. In October 2013, Wells completed a rental application for residents and occupants, with the intent to deceive, by falsely representing the Social Security Number assigned to C.E., was in fact Wells’ Social Security Number. During a search of the apartment rented to her using C.E.’s identity, agents found evidence that Wells had assumed other identities and obtained student loans using those identities.
“Federal student aid exists so that individuals can pursue and make their dream of a higher education a reality. As the law enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Education, ensuring that those who steal student aid or game the system for their own selfish purposes are stopped is a big part of our mission,” said Neil Sanchez, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General Southwestern Regional Office. “I'm proud of the work of OIG agents and our law enforcement colleagues in holding Ms. Wells accountable for her criminal actions.”
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General; Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General; and the Office of Inspector General, Texas Health and Human Services. Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicole Dana prosecuted.