10:19 AM EST, January 5, 2011
The office manager of a Lynchburg oil company pleaded guilty to 62 government fraud counts Wednesday morning. Donna Beeler-Hensley will spend up to six months in jail and pay more than $16,000 in fines and restitution.
According to a plea agreement entered Wednesday morning in Lynchburg Circuit Court, Beeler-Hensley admitted she overbilled the state Department of Social Services. Her employer, Sterling Oil, was an approved vendor for the state's fuel assistance program. Prosecutors say Beeler-Hensley, as office manager, billed the state for the maximum amount instead of what was actually delivered. Sterling Oil is no longer allowed to be a vendor for state contracts.
Beeler-Hensley was sentenced to six months in jail, but can petition for home confinement after two months. The sentence also includes a $10,000 fine and 18 months of supervised probation. She will also have to complete community service and pay $6,055.70 in restitution to the Department of Social Services. Sixty-two additional counts of government fraud were dropped as part of the plea agreement.
In a statement from her attorney, Beeler-Hensley said she would sometimes hold back a portion of a delivery because it would not fit in a customer's tank, then have it delivered later. "My goal in engaging in this conduct was to help my customers who often were not able to afford to stay warm during the winter," Beeler-Hensley wrote.
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