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The Journal Gazette

Monday, June 11, 2018 1:00 am

4 more BAE workers pleading guilty to fraud

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Four more employees of a local defense contractor have agreed to plead guilty to stealing from the company through a tuition assistance program.

Damon E. Bryant, Jessica L. Shutt, Tonya L. Sterling and Marjorie R. Warfield each face federal wire fraud charges for allegedly defrauding BAE Systems of thousands of dollars.

Plea agreements filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne call for each defendant to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud and to pay back money to BAE, a subsidiary of a British defense contractor with offices near Fort Wayne International Airport.

Twenty-seven other workers are charged in the alleged scheme, which court documents say cost the company nearly $800,000. Five have admitted to stealing from the company, and six have agreed to enter guilty pleas.

Tia N. Russell, who allegedly stole $11,880, is scheduled to plead guilty today.

BAE changed a tuition assistance program in 2013 to allow for upfront payments. Workers soon began submitting requests, pocketing the money and not taking classes, court documents allege.

Employees allegedly used software provided by the company to submit requests to company servers in New Hampshire for tuition money. The software was used to secure required information including proof of attendance and a completion certificate, prosecutors have said.

Court documents say about $767,500 was stolen. Individual amounts range from $6,750 to more than $55,000.

Together, Bryant, Shutt, Sterling and Warfield stole about $83,000, the documents say. 

mleblanc@jg.net