ATLANTA - Sandra J. Stevens, formerly known as Sandra J. Putnam, has been charged with abusing her position as a high-ranking member of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation by ringing up more than 325 personal charges, totaling over $60,000, on her government credit card.
“Based on her position and years of service, the GBI and the law enforcement community placed great trust in Stevens,” U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said. “Unfortunately, Stevens broke that trust for her own personal gain.”
“The GBI supports the strong stand the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia has taken in this case,” GBI Director Vernon Keenan said. “This indictment sends a clear message that public corruption will not be tolerated no matter who commits the act. Sworn officers must obey the law while they enforce the law.”
According to Pak and the indictment: The GBI is a statewide agency that provides assistance to the criminal justice system in the areas of criminal investigations, forensic laboratory services and computerized criminal justice information.
In October 1994, Stevens joined the GBI as an intelligence technician. On June 3, 1999, after becoming a special agent, Stevens took an oath of office to support and defend the Constitutions of the U.S. and the state of Georgia; to maintain public trust and abide by the GBI’s Code of Ethics; and to obey the laws of the land and the regulations of the GBI.
As a special agent with the GBI, Stevens held several high-ranking leadership positions, including being the special agent in charge of the Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, where she supervised approximately 25 GBI employees; and an inspector of the Investigative Division, where she supervised approximately 55 GBI employees. As the inspector of the Investigative Division, Stevens earned more than $100,000 per year.
As a state agency, the GBI participates in Georgia’s Visa Purchasing Card (P-card) Program. P-cards are credit cards provided to Georgia employees for official business purchases, such as supplies, materials, equipment and services for official use. State policy expressly prohibits using P-card for personal purchases. P-card users are required to reconcile all purchases by electronically uploading receipts for each P-card transaction.
In 1998, the GBI issued Stevens a P-card for business-related purchases and expenses. As P-card holder, Stevens signed an agreement stating that “under no circumstances, will [she] use the Purchasing Card to make personal purchases, either for [her]self or for others.”
From approximately May 9, 2013, to Aug. 17, 2016, Stevens allegedly used her P-card and the P-cards of least six other GBI employees to make more than 325 unauthorized purchases of goods and services for her personal benefit or the personal benefit of others, including a seven-piece dining set, a corn hole game set, two chaise lounge chairs, and a 65-inch ultra HD smart television.
Stevens also allegedly submitted altered receipts to the GBI in which she changed the description of the items purchased, the addresses to which the items were shipped, or both the item description and the shipping address. For example, on May 27, 2016, Stevens used another GBI employee’s P-card to order a sofa from Amazon.com that was delivered to her home in Covington. Subsequently, Stevens submitted a false receipt to the GBI in which she misrepresented the item description as 12 anti-spyware software discs, rather than a sofa, and misrepresented the shipping address as the GBI’s Headquarters in Decatur, rather than her home address.
In total, the GBI paid more than $60,000 for more than 325 unauthorized purchases made by Stevens on GBI P-cards. As a result of Stevens’ scheme to defraud, federal money from the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Homeland Security grants was impacted.
A grand jury has charged Stevens, 46, of Covington, with four counts of mail fraud and three counts of federal program theft.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the GBI.
Assistant U.S Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis and Jolee Porter are prosecuting the case.