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Staffer Managed To Steal $313,000 From Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified log at Petrified Forest National Park/Kurt Repanshek

A former Park Service employee at Petrified Forest National Park has been convicted of stealing more than $300,000 in user fees from the park/Kurt Repanshek file photo

Theft of petrified wood, not user fees, is usually the big concern at Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. But recently a park employee was able to steal more than $300,000 in fees, according to the Interior Department's Office of Inspector General.

OIG staff investigated discrepancies identified after the National Park Service conducted an electronic audit of the fee collection software at Petrified Forest. The audit involved compared figures for collected at the park with cash deposits made into the bank.

The investigation determined that from approximately 2010 through March 2016, "Sharon Baldwin, supervisory visitor use assistant, exploited vulnerabilities in the NPS remittance process at Petrified Forest stole approximately $313,000 in fees collected at the park."

According to OIG's report, Ms. Baldwin pled guilty in federal court to theft of government money and was sentenced to one year and one day in prison and ordered to pay $313,000 in restitution to the park.

"We also found that the Petrified Forest staff who assisted Baldwin with the cash counts were never formally trained on the NPS remittance process and relied on the training given to them by Baldwin, which contributed to Baldwin’s scheme remaining undetected for several years," the OIG noted.

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