The woman claimed she took the money to pay drug dealers who threatened one of her sons. But she refused to identify the dealers to law enforcement during the investigation or to the judge during testimony at today’s hearing. And in the end, the judge didn’t believe the woman’s story and imposed a longer sentence than originally called for as a result.
Linda Sue Tubbs, 56, of Oakman, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Inge Johnson to also repay Hager Oil Company $948,198 in restitution. The judge ordered Tubbs to report Jan. 14 to a prison to be designated later by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Tubbs had pleaded guilty to computer fraud and filing a false tax return in the case.
The charges relate to cash she took from 2008 through 2010 while working for Hager Oil Company in Jasper. She had worked at the company for more than 20 years and her duties included collecting and depositing retail store money into Hager’s bank accounts.
Tubbs made multiple false entries into Hager’s computer system to carry out her embezzlement scheme, according to court documents.
The prosecutor, Assistant U.S. Attorney Henry Cornelius, had asked Johnson to impose a sentence of 37 months.
Tubbs’ attorney, assistant federal public defender Glennon Threatt, had sought a sentence of no more than 30 months, which was below the 37-month to 46-month guideline range.
But Johnson raised the guideline range to 46 months to 57 months and gave Tubbs the maximum within that range after ruling Tubbs had obstructed justice when she testified today.
Threatt, who objected to the raising of the guidelines, and Cornelius both declined comment after the hearing.
“Ms. Tubbs not only stole from Hager Oil Company, she also stole from the American taxpayers,” Veronica Hyman-Pillot, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation stated in a prepared statement. “Tubbs knowingly filled false tax returns and filed to pay taxes on the money that she stole and benefited from personally. We hope the sentence today, reassures the honest, hardworking Americans that we will pursue those individuals who deliberately evade their tax obligations.”
Tubbs had testified at the hearing that she had begun taking the money in 2008 to pay off drug dealers on behalf of a son who has a drug problem. She said the drug dealers had threated that son and had physically abused him.
At the direction of the drug dealers, Tubbs said she would put the money in bags and place them in mailboxes or ditches. She said she never gave it to them directly. She said the son with the drug problem was beaten numerous times, had been shot at, and his truck had bullet holes in it.
Tubbs said she had approached two law enforcement officers about her problem with the drug dealers, but that she didn’t want to file a police report.
Tubbs said she had sent the son with the drug problem five or six times to treatment and for a month to her brother’s home in Oregon. But the first day he got back the drug dealers showed up at his door, she said. Tubbs said a drug dealer also at one point made a threat about her grandson.
“I really thought my son’s life was endanger and he would be killed, or anyone else in the family,” she said.
Johnson asked Tubbs if she knew who the drug dealers were. “I know from names he has told me, but I’m afraid to tell the names,” Tubbs replied.
Of all the money taken, Tubbs said she believed she only spent about $10,000 to $15,000 on herself.
An IRS agent testified that $176,000 in cash - not from salaries - was deposited into the personal account she shared with her husband during the three-year period the theft took place. But the agent said he didn’t know where the remaining money went.
Cornelius asked Tubbs about money spent on two vacations and other expenses. He also told the judge that Tubbs at first had denied to investigators that any of the money had gone into her personal account, but later admitted that some of it was used to pay for the living expenses for her and the son with the drug problem.
Threatt, however, pointed out in questioning that Tubbs did not live in a luxurious house, or drive an expensive car, or have expensive items around her home.
Tubbs apologized to Hager Oil Company and to her family. “I am truly sorry for what I have done,” she said.
Johnson told Tubbs that her testimony wasn’t credible. The judge said that Tubbs couldn’t tell her who the drug dealers were or the specific locations where she had dropped off the cash.
Johnson said she didn’t know if the remainder of the money is hidden in mattresses. “I find it totally unbelievable,” Johnson told Tubbs. “I have found that you have lied here today ... at your own sentencing.”