Stealing from the government is one thing, but stealing from children is much worse. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a New Mexico school district employee did. Kristi Stock was sentenced to 18 months in prison for her role in a scheme to steal and resell more than 3,000 iPods intended for Native American students.
Details of the charges against tax fraud and transportation of stolen goods. According to her plea agreement and court documents, the scheme began in 2013 when she was responsible for a program for the Central Unified School District in New Mexico designed to provide devices for Native American students living on tribal reservations.
While overseeing the program, Stock was supposed to use federal grant money to purchase iPods for distribution to students. However, with help from other conspirators including her friend James Bender and Saurabh Chawla, the group ended up shipping the stolen iPods to Maryland where they were listed on eBay before selling them for a “big” price.
Since his own account was previously suspended due to security concerns, Chawla had to use Bender’s eBay account to list the stolen devices in the auction, with Bender acting as an intermediary. Later, between 2015 and 2018, Stock reached out directly to Chawla, providing information on the hardware make, model, color, and quantity before agreeing on a price and putting it up for auction.
Finally, Stock admitted that it made more than $800,000 selling stolen iPods between 2013 and 2018. To make matters worse, Stock also filed fraudulent income tax returns, resulting in a tax loss of about $270,000. However, while Stoke faces an 18-month prison sentence, she actually comes out lighter than her co-conspirator Chawla, who was sentenced to 66 months in prison after failing to pay more than $700,000 in taxes. Meanwhile, Bender was sentenced to just 366 days in prison.
So, while Stoke and her crew are eventually caught, the real lesson here is that crime doesn’t pay – especially if you steal from children and then lie to your taxes about your illegal income.
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