Former Schuylkill County Employee Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of $452,186 from Federal-State Reclamation Funds
HARRISBURG—The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a former Schuylkill County employee, Virginia G. Kunigonis, age 54, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge William W. Caldwell to embezzling $452,186 from the Schuylkill County Conservation District between 2007 and 2014.
In an Information filed with United States District Court in September 2015 in Harrisburg, Kunigonis, a county employee who worked for the County’s Conservation District, was charged with one count of theft from programs receiving federal funds. The Information alleged Kunigonis forged 437 Conservation District checks totaling $410,435 payable to herself between October of 2007 and May of 2014. The Information also alleged Kunigonis used a Conservation District credit card to pay an additional $41,751 in personal expenses during that same time period. The Schuylkill County Conservation District received in excess of $10,000 in federal grant monies each year between 2007 and 2014.
According to U.S. Attorney Peter Smith, the embezzled money came from an account containing federal and state funds intended to be used for reclamation projects in the county.
Kunigonis’ guilty plea was entered pursuant to a plea agreement wherein she agreed to cooperate with the government, to make restitution as ordered by the court, and to forfeit the sum of $452,186, all of her interest in her Pottsville, PA residence, and all of her interest in her Schuylkill County employee retirement account, net of taxes, to the government.
Kunigonis began working as an administrative assistant for the Schuylkill County Conservation District in approximately 2002. Prior to that she worked in various capacities for Schuylkill County since 1986. No date has yet been scheduled for sentencing.
The case was investigated by the Scranton Office of the FBI and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel.
Indictments and Criminal Informations are only allegations. All persons charged are presumed to be innocent unless and until found guilty in court.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
The maximum penalty for Health Care Fraud is 10 years of imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. The maximum term of imprisonment for False Statements in Health Care Matters is five years’ imprisonment.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.