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Federal Prison Employee Sentenced for Defrauding Prisoners’ Families

by Scott Grammer

On June 14, 2018, Tanya L. Richard pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit wire fraud after being charged with taking money from the families of federal prisoners in return for a promise of sentence reductions. U.S. District Court Judge Marcia Crone ordered Richard to serve 24 months of her own time in federal prison on October 12, 2018.

Richard’s scheme, which went on for six years, was to tell families of federal prisoners that if they sent her cash payments or wire transfers, the money would be used to fund a group of confidential informants who would make controlled drug buys. The prisoners could then ask the court for sentence reductions because the funds amounted to providing “substantial assistance” to the government. 

Of course substantial assistance motions are usually for those who have provided information and trial testimony, not money. And, of course, there was no network of informants and no sentence reductions; Richard and her co-conspirators simply pocketed the payments.

Richard, 43, an administrative employee at the Federal Correctional Complex in Beaumont, Texas, created fake cooperation agreements, making them look as though they were from federal prosecutors. She did so after obtaining confidential information from various prisoners’ presentence investigation reports. The scheme cost prisoners’ families around $4 million nationwide. In addition to her 24-month sentence, Richard was ordered to pay $166,250 in restitution.

“This kind of fraud threatens the public’s trust in the justice system. The defendant targeted individuals and families who were vulnerable, and violated the trust that had been placed in her as a public servant,” said U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown. “It was important that there be a real consequence for that.”

Six other people involved in the scheme, including several former federal prisoners and Richard’s former common-law husband, Alvin James Warrick, had pleaded guilty to similar charges in 2017. 



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