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 user 2004-02-13 at 10:14:00 am Views: 63
  • #5133

    Pennsylvania Attorney General Pappert Announces Theft Charges Against Former PennDOT Purchasing Agent Who Allegedly Stole More Than $123,000

    STATE COLLEGE, Pa., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire/ — Attorney General Jerry Pappert today announced that agents of his Bureau of Criminal Investigation Have filed criminal charges against a former Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) purchasing agent who allegedly stole more than $123,000 from PennDOT and used the money for her personal use.
    Pappert identified the defendant as Tina A. Smith, 48, 123 Harter Lane, Bellefonte, Centre County.

    Pappert said his office initiated the investigation in April 2003 based on a referral from PennDOT, who also provided assistance in the investigation, along with the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office.

    Pappert said Smith, who was a PennDOT employee for 25 years, was a purchasing agent from 1998 through April 16, 2003.

    Pappert said the charges allege that Smith stole $84,827 of cash from advance account vendor checks, which were to be issued by PennDOT to various suppliers. Smith allegedly stole the money by adding her name to the payee name on the checks and then depositing the checks into her personal bank account.

    Pappert said the charges allege that Smith used her PennDOT Visa card more than 92 times at a Wal-Mart in Centre County to purchase gift cards, which she then redeemed more than 300 times and made $17,955 worth of personal purchases at three Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs located in Mifflin, Clinton and Centre counties.

    Pappert said examples of the items she purchased with the gift card were dog and cat food, household items, prescription drugs, clothes and food. Additionally, Smith is charged with illegally purchasing a computer and two television sets.

    Pappert said Smith also is charged with using the Visa payment card to pay her monthly utility bills. From August 1999 through March 2003, Smith allegedly paid Sprint Inc. $2,534 for her home telephone service. From July 2000 through March 2003, Smith used the PennDOT Visa card to pay Tele-Media $2,543 for her home cable service. From December 2000 through February 2003, Smith paid Ingram Fuels $2,921 for her residential fuel oil. From November 1999 through May 2002, Smith paid Allegheny West Penn Power $3,522 for her residential electric service.

    Pappert said his agents also found that from May 2002 through June 2003, Smith allegedly stole two PennDOT Nextel cell phones and used them for her personal use, causing PennDOT to pay $825 in cell phone service charges.

    Pappert said the charges also allege that from November 2000 through May 2001, Smith used her PennDOT Visa card to buy $2,269 worth of merchandise from Office Depot and returned the merchandise for refunds, which she used for her own purposes.

    Pappert said that Smith was suspended from her job on April 16, 2003. On May 5, 2003, Smith allegedly attempted to intercept a PennDOT bank statement from a local post office that would have revealed more of her illegal activities to authorities. Smith is also charged with allegedly requesting a fellow PennDOT employee to help her intercept the bank statement.

    Pappert said Smith is also charged with theft and forgery for allegedly stealing refund checks from various PennDOT suppliers, by adding her name to the payee name and depositing the checks into her personal bank account. Smith allegedly used this scam to steal $6,234 in PennDOT funds from January 2001 through March 2003.

    Pappert said that Smith is also charged with two counts of ordering $167,659 worth of unneeded and unauthorized copier toner from Customer Distribution Center, an office supply company. Pappert said the charges allege that PennDOT had an existing maintenance contract for the one sole copier at the Bellefonte Center where Smith worked. The toner that Smith purchased caused the copier to malfunction.

    Pappert said the charges also allege that Smith used the purchase cards to order $8,631 in cleaning products from Stone Cold Chemicals, a Florida company that charged up to 16 times the price that the state would have paid for the same or similar products. Pappert said his agents have found that Smith allegedly received restaurant gift cards and other items from Stone Cold Chemicals for ordering the supplies from them.

    Pappert noted that the investigation into the Customer Distribution Center and Stone Cold Chemicals is continuing.

    Pappert said Smith is scheduled for arraignment before Bellefonte District Justice Daniel R. Hoffman. If convicted on all charges Smith faces a maximum penalty of 185 years in prison and $395,000 fines.

    He noted that Smith will be prosecuted in Centre County by Senior Deputy Attorney General George R. Zaiser.

    Pappert thanked PennDOT for their cooperation throughout the investigation and he also thanked the Pennsylvania Auditor General’s Office for their assistance