KANSAS CITY, MO (STL.News) – A St. Joseph, Missouri in-home health care nursing assistant was sentenced in federal court today for stealing bank account information from one of her clients in order to illegally transfer more than $207,000 out of her account.
Ashley N. Garr, 34, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Greg Kays to five years in federal prison without parole, which is the statutory maximum penalty. The court also ordered Garr to pay $249,999 in restitution to her victims.
On Aug. 8, 2018, Garr pleaded guilty to one count of filing a false tax return and one count of aggravated identity theft.
Garr worked as a home health aide for the victim in St. Joseph for approximately one year beginning in 2014. In late October 2016, Garr stopped at the victim’s residence to introduce her children. Garr excused herself to use the bathroom during the visit, and found the victim’s checkbook and purse (with her identification) in a home office located near the bathroom. Garr used the stolen information to withdraw approximately $224,000 from the victim’s bank account. Garr used the money to pay her student loans, her credit card bills, and other personal and household expenses.
In the spring of 2017, the victim’s bookkeeper was reviewing the bank statement from Nodaway Valley Bank and noticed charges to RENT-A-CENTER and the Lexington law firm, which both seemed odd to her. She pointed them out to the victim and the victim stated that she did not make these charges. The bookkeeper contacted Nodaway Valley Bank to report the fraud.
A review of the bank account showed that Garr wrote three $700 checks to herself on the victim’s bank account on Oct. 27, 2016. There were also numerous transfers from the bank account to pay Garr’s personal expenses, for a total theft in 2016 of $187,152.
Garr also admitted that she filed fraudulent tax returns for 2014 and 2015. Garr inflated her income and tax withholdings to generate a larger refund than she was entitled to receive. Additionally, Garr did not report the money she stole as income on her 2016 tax return. According to court documents, Garr also filed false tax returns using stolen identities from disabled individuals that she obtained through her work as a home health aide.