Sharon Baldwin, 47, of Sanders, Arizona, a member of the Navajo Nation and an employee of the National Park Service, has been sentenced by U.S. District Judge Diane Humetewa to a year in prison. This will be followed by three years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $313,000 in restitution to the National Park Service. Baldwin had pleaded guilty on December 19, 2016 to theft of government money.
Baldwin was formerly employed at the Petrified Forest National Park. She was responsible for accounting for park entrance fees paid by Park visitors. From 2010 through 2016, Baldwin used her supervisory position to steal more than $300,000 and she altered electronic records and documents to hide the theft of money. Her salary as a National Park Service employee was $48,800 in fiscal year 2015 according to the data at FedsDataCenter.com.
Court documents indicated Baldwin was not following a lavish lifestyle. She was using the money to pay bills.
“Out-of-hand bills, coupled with a desire to take care of and please her children, caused the Defendant to make bad choices,” according to court documents. After years of theft, the documents said, Baldwin was struggling with either breaking the law or helping her family financially.
Most of the entrance fees are put back into maintaining the park. The theft had a significant impact on the ability to enhance visitor facilities at the Petrified Forest National Park.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Interior, Office of Inspector General. The prosecution was handled by Monica Edelstein, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona, Phoenix.
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