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When Local Government Officials Admit to Breaking the Law: The Latest from U.S. Attorney

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Moments ago, the U.S. Attorney's Office sent word in two back-to-back e-mails that two former government employees -- one, an agent in the Dallas FBI office; the other, a city of Garland risk management adjuster -- have copped to breaking the law. Let's begin with the FBI agent.

Her name is Ann Cox, a former special agent with the FBI in Dallas and a Rockwall resident who operated a Schlotzky's in her hometown. Says the release, she was sentenced this morning by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney Fitzwater to two years probation and ordered to pay an $18,000 fine after she pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense of unlawfully employing aliens.

From the release:

According to documents filed in the case, from at least August 1997 until December 2008, Cox operated a Schlotzky's Deli in Rockwall.  While operating the deli, she hired and employed individuals, knowing that they were not either admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. or authorized to be employed.  The documents name a total of six such individuals.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey, Jr. stated, "When FBI internal security procedures first detected the possibility that former Special Agent Cox may have committed this crime, I immediately referred this matter to our headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Pursuant to established procedures within the Department of Justice, an investigation was then conducted by the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with the full cooperation of the FBI.  While it is disappointing that an FBI Special Agent chose to break the law, it is important for citizens to understand that the FBI has an unwavering commitment to take appropriate action when transgressions are committed by its employees, the overwhelming majority of whom are above reproach in their professional and personal conduct."

Now, to The Case of Patricia Leathers and The Missing Federal Funds.

Leathers, says the release, admitted this morning to spending more than 14 years embezzling from the city of Garland. And how'd the 62-year-old -- who, at her March 18 sentencing hearing, faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution --  do that? Well ...

According to documents filed in the case, Leathers, who was responsible for investigating and resolving third-party liability claims against the City of Garland, admitted that beginning in January 1994, and continuing to March 2008, she conspired with others to embezzle from the City of Garland by creating false claims for damage and repairs to personal and real property. The false claims totaled more than $1.9 million. The checks, issued in the true names of co-conspirators as well as fictitious names, were cashed by co-conspirators who shared the proceeds with Leathers.

On December 8, 2010, Leathers' sister, Connie M. Powell, 59, of Garland, pleaded guilty to her role in the conspiracy. She faces a maximum statutory sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and restitution. Sentencing is set for March 2, 2011.

The investigation, which remains ongoing, is being conducted by the FBI, the Garland Police Department, and the Garland Office of the City Attorney and the Garland Office of the Internal Auditor. Assistant U.S. Attorney Katherine Miller is prosecuting.

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