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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Box ElderWoman Sentenced for Theft of Government Property

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced that a Box Elder, South Dakota, woman convicted of Theft of Government Property was sentenced by Chief Judge Jeffrey L. Viken, U.S. District Court.

Amy N. Garcia, age 34, was sentenced on April 1, 2019, to 6 months in federal prison, followed by 2 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment to the Federal Crime Victims Fund and $4,904.38 in restitution to Dakota Plains Legal Services.

Garcia was charged on July 26, 2016.  The conviction stems from Garcia, a former secretary and paralegal for Dakota Plains Legal Services (DPLS) in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, altering and cashing five old DPLS checks issued to her.   While Garcia was employed by DPLS she was paid by direct deposit, but was provided a payroll check for her records that was identical to a printed check with one exception, the word “VOID” was printed where the numeric dollar amount would normally appear.  Between May and June 2016, Garcia took copies of the five voided checks and altered the checks by removing the word “VOID” and the original date on the checks, and then inserting a dollar amount and new date.  Garcia then cashed the checks at various locations.  In total, Garcia fraudulently stole $4,904.38 in funds rightfully belonging to DPLS.  DPLS receives federal funding in order to provide civil legal representation to low income persons.

“Our office takes conduct like this very seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “Anyone who steals from the United States government or steals from a federal program will spend some time in federal prison.”

Jeffrey E. Schanz, Inspector General of the LSC, Office of Inspector General, stated: “We hope the prosecution of Amy Garcia offers a strong deterrent to others contemplating stealing Legal Services Corporation (LSC) funds that are intended to provide much needed legal services to an underprivileged population. We appreciate the leadership offered by the U.S Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota in prosecuting individuals who steal funds meant to serve the civil legal needs of the poor in our country.”

This case was investigated by the Legal Services Corporation, Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Benjamin Patterson prosecuted the case.

Garcia was ordered to self-surrender to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service on a future date.

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Updated April 3, 2019