Woman sentenced to prison for stealing 3,000 iPods intended for students

Deepak Gupta January 14, 2022
Updated 2022/01/14 at 12:02 AM

It’s one thing to steal from the government, but stealing from children is much worse. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what a New Mexico school district official did. Kristy Stock was sentenced to 18 months in federal prison for her role in a scheme to steal and resell more than 3,000 iPods intended for Native American students.

ONE details the charges against Stock for tax fraud and transporting stolen goods. According to her plea agreement and court documents, the scheme began in 2013 when she was in charge of a program for the Central Consolidated School District of New Mexico designed to provide devices to Native American students living on tribal reservations.

While overseeing the program, Stock was to use federal grant money to buy iPods to distribute to students. However, thanks to the help of other conspirators, including his friend James Bender and Saurabh Chawla, the group ended up shipping the stolen iPods to Maryland, where they were listed on eBay before being sold with a “substantial” tag.

Due to his own account having previously been suspended due to security concerns, Chawla was forced to use Bender’s eBay account to list the stolen devices for auction, with Bender serving as an intermediary. Later, between 2015 and 2018, Stock communicated directly with Chawla, providing information on the make, model, color and quantity of the devices before agreeing a price and putting them up for auction.

In all, Stock admitted that he made over $800,000 from selling stolen iPods between 2013 and 2018. To make matters worse, Stock also filed fraudulent income tax returns, resulting in a tax loss of about $270,000. That said, while Stock faces an 18-month prison sentence, she actually came out lighter than her co-conspirator Chawla, who was sentenced to 66 months after failing to pay more than $700,000 in taxes. Meanwhile, Bender was sentenced to just 366 days in prison.

So, while Stock and his team ended up getting caught, the real lesson here is that crime doesn’t pay — especially if you’re stealing from kids and then lying about your taxes on your ill-gotten income.

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