Plea agreement reached in LANL embezzlement; theft case

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By Carol A. Clark

A plea agreement has been reached for an employee charged with embezzlement and theft of government property at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Pursuant to information, Hallie Deaguero pled guilty to embezzlement and theft following a collaborative investigation by several law enforcement agencies.

The United States Attorney’s Office charged Deaguero, 47 of Española, saying she, "willfully and knowingly did conceal and retain property and things of value of the United States, valued at approximately $14,910.97," according to documents filed Oct. 16 in United States District Court in Albuquerque.

The documents indicate that the crimes occurred from approximately September 2004 through February 2008 while Deaguero was working in the Environmental Earth Sciences Division at LANL. LANL terminated Deaguero in February 2008, according to court documents.

LANL spokesman Kevin Roark confirmed this morning that the laboratory was involved from the very beginning in the investigation into the property theft from the lab.

“Hallie Deaguero, who pled guilty in U.S. District Court on Oct. 16, was              an organizational support employee at the laboratory for approximately                     10 years,” Roark said. “She has not been an employee since February 2008.”

LANL is continuing to work closely with local law enforcement and the Department of Energy's Inspector General in this case, he said, adding that since the investigation is ongoing, all additional questions should be directed to the DOE Inspector General.

In the plea agreement signed by Assistant United States Attorney George C. Kraehe, Deaguero and her attorney John Kubiak, Deaguero agreed to waive her rights and plead guilty to felony theft of governmental property including:

• Dell Latitude D400 laptop computer - $2,850;

• Apple laptop computer - $1,351;

• Dell monitor - $1,107;

• In-Focus Projector - $1,364;

• 12-inch Apple Mac Powerbook G4 - $1,745.90;

• Plextor DVD/CD R/RW drive - $100;

• Epson Perfection Color Scanner - $45.27;

• Gold Touch Keyboard - $120;

• Powerbook 3400C laptop - $4,464.38;

• Dell Optiplex GX620 Tower - $1,262.45.

She also plead guilty to the theft of various accessory items, including jump drives, thumb drivers, valued at $500, hard drives, routers, external drivers, software, mouses, cables, battery packs, manuals, computer bags, boxes, and paper - $500.

Sentencing for Deaguero could include                                 imprisonment of up to 10 years, a fine not to                                                  exceed $250,000, a mandatory form of supervised release of not less than three years that must follow any term of imprisonment, a mandatory special penalty assessment of $100, and restitution as may be ordered by the Court.

Deaguero admitted in the plea agreement that "On or about June 13, 2007, I filled out a 'Report of Lost, Damaged, Destroyed or Stolen Property' form regarding a Dell Latitude D400 laptop computer, which I had previously stolen and knowingly and willingly made materially false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations on the form with the intent to mislead the government and hinder its efforts to recover the property I had stolen from it."

Deaguero went on to detail in her statement the steps she took to carry out the thefts. She is scheduled for sentencing in January.

Deaguero was caught as a result of the combined efforts of the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General - Office of Investigations, LANL Internal Investigation Security Group, Los Alamos Police and Española Police.

Det. Shari Mills participated in the investigation and said, “the case was initiated by the Los Alamos Police Department, who were joined in the investigation by the Department of Energy and the Office of the Inspector General – Office of Investigations.”