Georgia Department of Corrections Employees Sentenced to Federal Prison for Stealing State Restitution Funds
ATLANTA—Tammi Stephens, Daynna Gregory, and Richard Cantrell have been sentenced to federal prison for stealing victims’ restitution money from a fund controlled by the Georgia Department of Corrections (GDOC), where Stephens and Gregory formerly worked in its banking department.
“Stephens and Gregory stole from a fund that compensates crime victims, a fund that the two had been entrusted to help administer,” said U.S. Attorney John Horn. “By printing false checks and delivering them to Cantrell to launder through his business, Stephens and Gregory callously abused that trust, and effectively preyed upon crime victims a second time.”
“This sentencing holds all three defendants fully accountable for their organized criminal scheme to deprive previous crime victims of monies fully due them. The fact that two of the defendants were State employees abusing their positions of trust made the crimes all the more reprehensible,” said J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.
“We are pleased to see justice served on these individuals for their role in abusing the public’s trust, thanks to the actions by both GDOC’s internal investigations unit and the cooperation of the FBI,” said Homer Bryson, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Corrections. “The sentencing of Stephens and Gregory sends a strong message that this type of conduct will not be tolerated,” continued Bryson.
According to 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 GDOC 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 money 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 GDOC 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 29 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 $232,426.76 in restitution funds, which they then spent on a variety of retail purchases.
Tammi Stephens, 37, of Forsyth, Georgia, was sentenced to three years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $232,426.76.
Daynna Gregory, 41, of Lithonia Georgia, was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $232,426.76.
Richard Cantrell, 54, of Marietta, Georgia, was sentenced to two years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution of $232,426.76.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Trevor C. Wilmot and Kurt R. Erskine prosecuted the case.