Wood County woman pleads guilty to stealing $1,200 stimulus check

Crime & Public Safety

MARSHALL, Texas (KETK)– A woman from Hawkins, Texas has pleaded guilty on Wednesday to theft of government money.

Brianna Clarisse Banks, 24, admitted before U.S. Magistrate Judge Roy Payne she stole a person’s stimulus check, according to Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.

“COVID has been financially devastating for many East Texans, especially for those who were already struggling,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei.  “Thieves who take the federal funds intended for the financially vulnerable will be aggressively investigated and prosecuted in the Eastern District of Texas.”

Court information shows that in April of 2020 the U.S. Treasury sent an Economic Impact Payment check of $1,200 to an individual in Avinger, Texas.

Banks took the check from that person’s post office box. Then, she opened a checking account with the victim’s name, social security number and date of birth. Banks used her own mailing address for the account, and she deposited the check and used the money.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment against Banks on Jan. 20, 2021, said the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She could face up to 10 years in federal prison.

Banks has not been sentenced, yet. A hearing for this will be arranged after a presentence investigation is completed by the U.S. Probation Office.

This case is being examined by the U.S. Secret Service and the Cass County Sheriff’s Office. It is also being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jim Noble.

The U.S. Attorney’s CARES Act was passed on March 29, 2020 to assist Americans, who were economically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CARES Act provided $2 trillion in relief programs and $560 million to Americans. Approximately $300 billion was used for Economic Impact Payment Checks.

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