CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Tonja Oakes, 58, of Cross Lanes, was sentenced today to three years of federal probation, including eight months on home detention, and ordered to pay $21,943.80 in restitution for wire fraud. Oakes admitted to defrauding the American Red Cross (ARC) while employed at its Cross Lanes office.
According to court documents and statements made in court, the ARC hired Oakes in 2105 as a business operations specialist, and her duties included acting as the purchasing agent for the ARC Central Appalachian Region. On March 9, 2019, Oakes began working as the executive assistance to the chief executive officer of the ARC Central Appalachian Region. Among her duties in that position, Oakes reviewed monthly statements of credit cards issued by ARC to certain employees and approved the statements for payment. This position allowed Oakes to review and approve her own expenditures.
Oakes admitted to making multiple unauthorized purchases with ARC-provided credit cards from at least February 17, 2017 through at least October 5, 2020. Oakes further admitted that the unauthorized transactions included a $973.77 payment for servicing a 2011 Kia Sorento on June 8, 2020. Other unauthorized purchases by Oakes included buying items while on vacation in South Carolina, groceries, and personal items purchased on Amazon. Oakes admitted that she used her employment position to review and approve her credit card statements, even though she knew many of the payments were unauthorized.
United States Attorney Will Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
United States District Judge Irene C. Berger imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Ryan Blackwell and Holly Wilson prosecuted the case.