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Butte man pleads guilty to cashing checks he stole while working for BLM

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Posted at 3:06 PM, Feb 22, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-22 17:06:16-05

A Butte man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges stemming from allegations that he stole government checks while working for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), forged a signature, and cashed the checks to cover personal expenses.

Adrian Anthony Aragon, 52, of Butte, pleaded guilty to theft of government property and aggravated identity theft, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana.

Aragon was employed by the BLM in 2019 and 2020. In court documents, the government alleged that in early 2022, another BLM employee reported four BLM checks totaling $10,700 had been cashed without her knowledge or authorization.

The release said bank records showed the checks were written to “cash” and presented for deposit into an account in Aragon’s name. He reportedly used the funds for personal expenses that included cash withdrawals, utility and cell phone bills, restaurants, grocery stores, and Amazon purchases.

According to the release, the BLM employee said Aragon had access to her checks and made schedule changes that allowed him to be the first or last person in the office.

Aragon will be sentenced on June 26, 2024 and faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, a $250 000 fine, and three years of supervised release on the theft crime; he faces a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, a $250,000 fine, and one year of supervised release on the aggravated identity theft crime.