Westminster woman who stole $800K from feds gets 50 months in prison

A Westminster woman was sentenced to 50 months in prison Monday for running a seven-year scheme that stole $800,000 from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.

District Court Judge William Martinez also ordered Dema Martinez to pay $813,000 in restitution to the federal government and nearly $13,000 to two banks that she lied to.

Martinez, 41, pleaded guilty last October to wire fraud and fraudulent use of an unauthorized access device. In exchange, prosecutors dropped 22 other felony charges, including embezzlement, bank fraud, mail fraud, and aiding and abetting fraud.

Between January 2012 and April 2019, Martinez worked as a manager at the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Division of Energy and Mineral Development, located in Lakewood. The division gives advice to tribes that are developing their energy and mineral resources.

As part of her job, Martinez had a government-issued credit card. Using that card and other cards issued to her coworkers, Martinez bought everything from airline tickets, jewelry and an Audi S4 to household appliances, groceries, pet food and wrestling singlets.

“To conceal the true nature of her purchases, Martinez regularly submitted altered and fictitious receipts and invoices,” according to her plea agreement. There were also “false descriptions and explanations to coworkers, including her supervisors,” the agreement states.

On some occasions, Martinez created fake companies and siphoned taxpayer dollars to them. In 2020 and 2021, she also used a government-issued Chevy Tahoe for vacations and personal errands and refueled her own vehicles with a government credit card.

Though bank fraud charges against her were dropped, Martinez admitted in the plea agreement to lying on bank applications in order to acquire two loans totaling about $12,500. Martinez told the banks that her government salary was $117,000 when it was only $84,000.

All told, Martinez took $826,110 through fraud, according to the plea agreement.

Martinez was represented by attorney Natalie Stricklin, a federal public defender in Denver. Reached by email, Stricklin declined to comment on behalf of her client.

The Martinez case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Neff.

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