Gretna Woman Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Government Agencies
NEW ORLEANS—U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite announced today that MARCIA PETERSON, 61, a resident of Gretna, Louisiana, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft of government funds and one count of wire fraud.
According to court documents, PETERSON was the executive director and accountant for CDC 58:12, a non-profit with a stated mission of transforming communities by creating opportunities in housing, education, health, and economic development. During the relevant time period, CDC’s primary sources of funding were federal grants from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These grants were administered by the Louisiana Department of Education, the Housing Authority of New Orleans, and the City of New Orleans. The funds were to be used only for approved purposes, including supportive services for residents of a public housing development, summer programs for children, and educational services.
From 2011 through 2013, PETERSON improperly withdrew approximately $87,000 of these federal funds from CDC’s bank account and spent the money on gambling and other personal expenses. Additionally, in August 2012, while working as CDC’s director and accountant, PETERSON submitted a fraudulent claim for unemployment insurance benefits to the Louisiana Workforce Commission. From August 2012 to December 2012, PETERSON made weekly certifications in which she falsely represented that she was unemployed, resulting in the Louisiana Workforce Commission providing PETERSON approximately $4,199.
PETERSON faces a maximum term of 20 years on the wire fraud charge and 10 years’ imprisonment on each of the theft of government funds charges. Each count also carries a possible fine of up to $250,000 and up to three years of supervised release following any period of imprisonment. Sentencing is scheduled for December 17, 2014, before U.S. District Court Judge Martin L.C. Feldman.
The case was investigated by special agents of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Education—Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Labor—Office of Inspector General, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney Chandra Menon.