A former New York City human resources worker was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday for allegedly stealing $300,000 to put a voodoo hex on her ex-boyfriend.
Eliana Bauta, 36, was sentenced in a Manhattan Federal Court this week after she was caught stealing taxpayer funds from a program to help “needy New Yorkers,” reports state.
Bauta reportedly gave a portion of the stolen money to friends and family and also allegedly paid a “supernatural specialist” to put a spell on her ex-boyfriend, prosecutors said.
Bauta said she blames her actions on “mental illness.”
“What I have done will haunt me for the rest of my life,” she told the court. “My mental illness has led me to a path of destruction.”
Manhattan U.S. General Attorney Geoffrey Berman said Bauta has hurt people in need by “abusing” her position.
“HRA employees like Eliana Bauta are trusted to use their positions to help people in need. Instead, as she has now admitted, Bauta egregiously abused that trust, working with her co-conspirators to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for New York’s needy,” he said.
Reports state that Bauta submitted an emergency benefits request that provides funds to the victim of an alleged disaster. However, her story was fraudulent and authorities discovered that the person who was supposed to receive the funds was the individual Bauta needed to repay for putting the curse on her ex-boyfriend.
Bauta reportedly submitted numerous fraudulent requests of that nature during her 10 years as a Job Opportunity Specialist. The checks were received by family and associates who deposited the money into their own bank accounts and sometimes shared with Bauta.
“Public benefits must be safeguarded for eligible individuals and not squandered by fraudsters who manipulate the system for their own gain,” said Department of Investigation Commissioner Margaret Garnett.
Reports state that Bauta agreed to forfeit almost $256,000. She will serve two years in prison and an additional three years of supervised release.
“As this prosecution makes clear, we are committed to rooting out those who would abuse the public trust and to ensuring that funds from public programs go to their intended recipients, not the pockets of unscrupulous employees and their co-conspirators,” Berman concluded.