A woman who once worked as the administrative officer of Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado has been charged with embezzling nearly $750,000 from the park over nearly four years.
According to the indictment returned last week, Lydia L. White, age 48, of Hooper, Colorado, is charged with 145 counts of theft of government property, and 53 counts of money laundering in connection with embezzling approximately $730,000 in money taken from the Park Service.
The indictment alleges that from March 2007 through December 2010 Ms. White "willfully and knowingly stole money from the National Park Service for her own use and the use of another, depriving the National Park Service of the use or benefit of the money."
“Thanks to the hard work of the National Park Service and the IRS-Criminal Investigation, a corrupt government employee who was embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars has been caught, and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” said U.S. Attorney John Walsh.
Park Service Director Jon Jarvis added that "(T)he apparent fraud and embezzlement by this former National Park Service employee is an affront to the taxpayer and the tens of thousands of public servants who do their job honorably and honestly every day. The response to these reprehensible activities should send a strong and clear signal that abuse of the public trust cannot and will not be tolerated.”
If convicted of theft of government property, the defendant faces not more than 10 years in federal prison, and a fine of up to $250,000 per count. If convicted of money laundering, the defendant faces not more than 20 years imprisonment per count, and a fine of up to twice the value of the property involved, or approximately $1,476,862.60. Ms. White also faces a possible order to pay restitution.
The indictment includes an asset forfeiture allegation, which states that the defendant shall forfeit all of her interest in any property, real or personal, that consists of or is derived, directly or indirectly, from proceeds traceable to the commission of the offenses stated in the indictment.