A former top-ranking GBI investigator was sentenced Friday to one year in federal prison followed by two years of supervised release for racking up more than $60,000 on government-issued credit cards.
Sandra Stevens, 46, used her purchasing card and the P-Cards of at least six other GBI employees to make more than 325 unauthorized transactions between May 2013 and August 2016, according to the Department of Justice.
The cards are issued to GBI employees for purchases such as supplies, materials and equipment for official use. Employees are required to account for every dollar spent by electronically uploading copies of their receipts, authorities said.
But Stevens’ purchases included a seven-piece dining set for more than $560, an outdoor corn hole set for nearly $230, two lounge chairs for her backyard pool worth $400 and a 65-inch television for nearly $1,600, federal prosecutors said.
Stevens, who went by Sandra Putnam during her time at the GBI, claimed the
purchases were work-related on official paperwork.
She also submitted altered receipts to the GBI where she changed the description of the items purchased, the addresses they were shipped to, or both.
In May 2016, Stevens used another GBI employee’s P-Card to order a $930 sofa on Amazon that was delivered to her home in Covington. She then submitted a false receipt where she misrepresented the couch as 12 anti-spyware software discs that were sent to the GBI’s DeKalb County headquarters rather than her home address.
Stevens pleaded guilty to state charges in 2017 and federal mail fraud charges in January.
“It is imperative sworn officers obey the law while they enforce the law,” GBI Director Vic Reynolds said. “This sentence sends a clear message that public corruption will not be tolerated and the violators, no matter who they are, will be held accountable.”
In her 22-year career with the GBI, Stevens rose through the ranks to eventually hold the job of inspector of the Investigative Division, where she supervised 55 employees and made more than $100,000 per year, authorities said.
She was allowed to resign in lieu of termination in August 2016 and was arrested less than two weeks later.
When Stevens pleaded guilty to racketeering and violation of her oath of office in DeKalb County Superior Court in 2017, she faced a maximum prison sentence of 20 years. State prosecutors recommended eight years in prison.
Her defense attorney asked for probation, with the first 30 days spent in the DeKalb County jail followed by two years of home confinement.
Instead, Judge Clarence Seeliger sentenced Stevens to 10 years on probation as a first offender, citing her more than two decades of “honorable service.” That sentence was terminated weeks later after she completed her community service and paid back the $60,268.04 she defrauded the government.
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