San Diego, California - A former paralegal specialist for the San Diego Division of the FBI was sentenced Monday to 24 months in prison for embezzling nearly $250,000 in government funds. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Special Agent in Charge James K. Cheng of the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General’s (DOJ-OIG) Los Angeles Field Office made the announcement.
Lynn M. Morris, 56, of San Diego, California, pleaded guilty on March 7 to one count of embezzlement of government property. In addition to the prison term, U.S. District Court Judge Larry Alan Burns ordered Morris to pay $278,000 in restitution.
“Lynn Morris capitalized on her position at the FBI to line her own pockets with stolen government funds,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski. “This conviction demonstrates the Department of Justice’s commitment to investigating and prosecuting government employees who abuse their authority. Individuals who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”
“Lynn Morris abused her position for personal gain and betrayed the trust of her FBI colleagues,” said DOJ-OIG Special Agent in Charge Cheng. “The Office of the Inspector General is resolute in its commitment to protecting the integrity of the Department of Justice by investigating those engaged in corruption.”
“After Lynn Morris’ guilty plea in March of this year, the San Diego FBI worked closely with the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General in order to fully investigate the conduct of our employee,” said FBI San Diego Division Special Agent in Charge John Brown. “We were resolute to restoring the integrity and trust that these criminal actions had tarnished by locating every dollar she had stolen from the government.”
According to documents submitted in connection with her plea, between July 2014 and November 2016, Morris embezzled approximately $159,821.90 that belonged to the United States and converted the funds for her own personal use. The funds were held in an account owned by the FBI San Diego Division’s Asset Forfeiture Unit (AFU), where Morris was a paralegal specialist and the AFU’s designated coordinator. The court found that Morris also embezzled $92,010.92 from an additional AFU account and stole $26,351.10 from FBI evidence rooms. Morris admitted that to convert government funds to her own use, she used her knowledge and position within the FBI to withdraw cash from the AFU’s account undetected and deposited portions of the stolen proceeds into her personal checking account.
This case was investigated by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General, with assistance from the FBI San Diego Division. Trial Attorneys Marco A. Palmieri and Jessica C. Harvey of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section prosecuted the case.