The Journal Gazette
Thursday, June 21, 2018 1:00 am

2 more ex-BAE employees plead guilty to fraud

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

Federal magistrates heard guilty pleas Wednesday from two former employees of a local defense contractor who stole from the company through a tuition assistance program.

The pleas bring to nine the number of workers who have admitted to defrauding BAE Systems through the program, which offered upfront payments to employees who signed up to take college classes.

Thirty-one employees netted nearly $800,000 in the scheme, court documents allege.  

Damon E. Bryant, 43, and Marjorie R. Warfield, 59, each pleaded guilty to a single count of wire fraud in U.S. District Court in Fort Wayne.

Bryant pocketed $18,750, and Warfield took $24,000, according to court documents. Plea agreements call for them to pay back the money to BAE, a subsidiary of a British defense contractor with offices at 4250 Airport Expressway.

Prosecutors agreed to drop additional wire fraud charges against the two in exchange for the guilty pleas.

“I knew that it was wrong to keep the money, and I did anyway,” Warfield told Magistrate Paul R. Cherry.

Magistrate Susan L. Collins heard Bryant's guilty plea.

The company changed its tuition assistance program in 2013 to allow for upfront payments, and prosecutors have said employees quickly began submitting bogus requests, keeping the money and not attending classes.

Tuition requests were submitted using software provided by BAE, which has servers in Nashua, New Hampshire. The software was used to secure required paperwork including proof of attendance and a completion certificate, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacey Speith said.

Though nine people have admitted stealing from the company – including three this week –  22 more face wire fraud charges in the case. Their cases are pending.

Tonya L. Sterling and Jessica L. Shutt are scheduled to enter guilty pleas today and Friday, respectively.

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