A St. Joseph, Mo., in-home health care nursing assistant pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing bank account information from one of her clients in order to illegally transfer more than $207,000 out of her account.
Ashley N. Garr, 33, pleaded guilty before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to one count of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Garr worked as a home health aide for the victim in St. Joseph for approximately one year beginning in 2014. In late October 2016, Garr stopped at the victim’s residence to introduce her children. Garr excused herself to use the bathroom during the visit and found the victim’s checkbook and purse (with her identification) in a home office located near the bathroom.
In the spring of 2017, the victim’s bookkeeper was reviewing the bank statement from Nodaway Valley Bank and noticed charges to RENT-A-CENTER and the Lexington law firm, which both seemed odd to her. She pointed them out to the victim and the victim stated that she did not make these charges. The bookkeeper contacted Nodaway Valley Bank to report the fraud.
A review of the bank account showed that Garr wrote three $700 checks to herself on the victim’s bank account on Oct. 27, 2016. There were also numerous transfers from the bank account to pay Garr’s personal expenses, for a total theft in 2016 of $187,152.
Garr also admitted that she filed fraudulent tax returns for 2014 and 2015. Garr inflated her income and tax withholdings to generate a larger refund than she was entitled to receive. Additionally, Garr did not report the money she stole as income on her 2016 tax return.
Under the terms of today’s plea agreement, Garr must pay $207,638 in restitution to the victim of her fraud scheme and $151,589 in restitution to the IRS. Garr must forfeit to the government $207,638, which represents the proceeds of her criminal conduct.
Under federal statutes, Garr is subject to a sentence of up to three years in federal prison without parole for filing a false tax return, as well as a mandatory consecutive sentence of two years in federal prison for aggravated identity theft. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul S. Becker. It was investigated by the FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation.