Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Pennsylvania
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
Former Schuylkill County Employee Sentenced To 12 Months In Prison For Embezzling $452,186
HARRISBURG – The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that a former Schuylkill County employee, Virginia G. Kunigonis, age 54, of Pottsville, Pennsylvania, was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by U.S. District Judge William W. Caldwell to embezzling $452,186 from the Schuylkill County Conservation District between 2007 and 2014.
Kunigonis pled guilty in October 2015 before Judge Caldwell to an Information charging her with Theft From Programs Receiving Federal Funds pursuant to a plea agreement with the government. The Schuylkill County Conservation District receives in excess of $10,000 in federal grant monies each year.
According to United States Attorney Peter Smith, the Information alleged Kunigonis forged 437 Conservation District checks totaling $410,435 payable to herself between October of 2007 and May of 2014. The Information also alleged Kunigonis charged $41,751 in personal expenses against a Conservation District credit card during that same time period. Evidence elicited during the sentencing hearing was that the embezzlement scheme was undetected for so long because of the District’s failure to implement adequate internal controls and that Kunigonis used the stolen money, in part, to pay down more than $135,000 in credit card debt.
In addition to her 12 month sentence, Judge Caldwell ordered Kunigonis to pay $452,186 restitution consisting of $3,122 to Schuylkill County and $449,064 to Pennsylvania Counties Risk Pool (PCoRP), Schuylkill County’s bonding company. Judge Caldwell also directed the forfeiture of Kunigonis’ interest in her Pottsville residence, and her interest in her Schuylkill County retirement account.
Kunigonis began working as an administrative assistant for the Schuylkill County Conservation District in approximately 2002. Prior to that she worked in various capacities for Schuylkill County since 1986.
The case was investigated by the Scranton Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Douglas Daniel.
A sentence following a finding of guilt is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.
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