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TACOMA, Wash. (AP) — A former postal worker was sentenced Tuesday for wire fraud, embezzlement and identity theft amounting to $276,000 over seven years.

The News Tribune reports U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones sentenced Iliganoa Theresa Lauofo, 40, to two years, three months in prison after she pleaded guilty. She’ll also must pay $276,639 in restitution.

“There are large families across this country who have no source of income and mouths to feed," Jones said. "You had no right to go out and lie and cheat and steal your way.… You told a persistent and protracted series of lies.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release that Lauofo “lied about her household composition and income, used stolen identities to claim additional benefits and open bank and credit accounts, and stole checks from the mail during a period when she was employed by the U.S. Postal Service.”

As part of the public assistance fraud, which started in 2011, she “stole and misused the identity information of 13 minor children who lived in American Samoa and Western Samoa,” falsely reporting that they lived with her, the release said.

Lauofo also used stolen identities to open bank accounts and credit accounts, including in the name of her ex-husband years after he died, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

As a letter carrier, they alleged she deposited stolen checks and threw away more than 200 pieces of mail.

“This defendant was unrelenting in her efforts to defraud the systems we rely on to help the neediest in our communities,” U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran said in the news release. “She persisted even after authorities made clear they were investigating her fraud scheme."

"At a time when many are struggling to make ends meet because of COVID-19, we must safeguard federal resources for those who need assistance.”

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


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