Former Department of Corrections Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing State Restitution Funds
ATLANTA—Daynna Gregory, the last of three defendants charged with stealing state restitution funds, has pleaded guilty. Earlier this year, Tammi Stephens and Richard Cantrell also entered guilty pleas to theft of public funds and conspiracy stemming from a check fraud scheme to steal from a victims’ restitution fund controlled by the Georgia Department of Corrections where Stephens and Gregory formerly worked as an account paraprofessional and an accounting clerk, respectively.
“The State of Georgia created this fund for the honorable purpose of providing relief to victims of financial crime, and these defendants callously stole from this fund to enrich themselves,” said Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn. “This conduct is all the more disturbing because as Georgia Department of Corrections employees Stephens and Gregory were responsible for issuing restitution checks to the people they preyed upon.”
“When those within the criminal justice system so deliberately choose to engage in such corrupt criminal activity as seen in this case, it is truly disheartening. The FBI will continue to work with its various law enforcement partners, to include the Georgia Department of Corrections, to ensure that this type of criminal conduct is swiftly addressed,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“The guilty plea by these former employees is a reflection of the professional and diligent work by our internal investigations team and their partnership with our colleagues at the FBI,” said Commissioner Homer Bryson. “We remain committed to our zero-tolerance policy for this type of conduct by employees entrusted with public funds,” continued Bryson.
According to Acting U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: From September 2013 to June 2014, Stephens and Gregory were employees in the Georgia Department of Corrections’ banking unit where they were responsible for issuing checks drawn on a restitution fund set up to compensate victims of other crimes. The defendants formed and carried out a plan to steal victim restitution by having Stephens and Gregory use their access to the fund to issue fraudulent checks payable to a flower shop owned by Cantrell, who was not a Department employee. The checks were purposely issued to Cantrell’s flower shop to hide the defendants’ involvement in the theft. Cantrell agreed to use his business to launder the stolen money.
After printing the fraudulent checks, Stephens and Gregory altered the Department’s financial records to further disguise their theft. Stephens and Gregory issued twenty-nine fraudulent checks to the flower shop, which were then delivered to Cantrell, who cashed them and split the proceeds with Stephens and Gregory. In total, the defendants stole more than $232,000 in restitution funds, which they then spent on a variety of retail purchases.
Each of the defendants pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Steve C. Jones. Richard Cantrell, 54, of Marietta, Georgia, was sentenced by Judge Jones on July 10, 2015, to two years in prison followed by three years of supervised release. Tammi Stephens, 37, of Forsyth, Georgia, will be sentenced on July 31, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. Daynna Gregory, 41, of Lithonia, Georgia, will be sentenced on September 24, 2015 at 2:30 p.m.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Assistant United States Attorney Kurt R. Erskine and Special Assistant United States Attorney Trevor C. Wilmot are prosecuting the case.