Former New York City Human Resources Administration employee Eliana Bauta was sentenced Wednesday to two years in prison for stealing more than $300,000 from HRA funds. While most of the stolen taxpayer money went to family and friends, some of it was used for a more personal expense: to hire someone to put a spell on her former lover.
According to The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Bauta submitted an emergency benefits request that would supposedly be received by someone who needed financial support after an alleged disaster. The story turned out to be a fraud, and the receiver was actually the person Bauta needed to repay for placing the supernatural curse on her ex-boyfriend.
Bauta, 36, worked as a Job Opportunity Specialist for HRA for 10 years in which she has issued numerous emergency benefits funds under false circumstances to people who “in truth and in fact did not quality for those funds," including relatives and associates who would deposit the checks in their own bank accounts and share some of the proceeds with Bauta.
Bauta pleaded guilty to federal program theft and conspiracy to commit wire fraud after her arrest in November, 2018. She agreed to forfeit about $256,000, and will have to not serve not only two years in prison but also three years of supervised release, the New York Daily News reported.
“My mental illness has led me to a path of destruction,” Bauta said in Manhattan Federal Court, according to the Daily News. She claimed that being incarcerated made her realize she was mentally ill. “What I have done will haunt me for the rest of my life.” She did not speak about the supernatural specialist she hired to hex her ex.
Co-conspirators Eric Gonzales and Geraldine Perez have also been sentenced to two years probation and nine months in prison, respectively. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated that crimes like this hurt those in need, and that it is the city’s goal to prevent this sort of loss from happening again.
“We remain vigilant in seeking out and prosecuting abuses of trust by City employees and remain committed to ensuring that federal and local funds go to their intended recipients.”
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