Copter firm employee gets prison for fraud

July 26, 2010 at 1:50 PM

FORT WORTH, Texas, July 26 (UPI) -- A Texas woman who prosecutors suspect may have been following the orders of her boss was sentenced to prison for defrauding the U.S. government.

Lisa Michelle Hall, 34, was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison for falsifying invoices that allowed her employer, Texas Aviation Services of Fort Worth, to bill the government more than $256,000 for work on Army helicopters that wasn't performed, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported Sunday.

Hall testified she was following the orders of her boss at the time, Tim Woodard, former company president and co-owner, who is now her stepfather, the newspaper said.

Hall said she would take the records of hours worked on the Army helicopters to Woodard.

"He would tell me, 'That's not enough,' and tell me how much to bill," Hall said. "I just did exactly what he told me. He gave me a specific number."

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Bradford said there was no evidence that Hall personally benefited from overbilling the government.

U.S. District Judge John McBryde, in a sentencing hearing July 16, asked Bradford if prosecutors believed Hall's testimony she was told by Woodard to inflate the bills, and why they weren't prosecuting someone else.

Bradford said he did believe Hall's explanation but an extensive search of the company's files turned up nothing to support criminal charges against Woodard or anyone else.

"My belief is one thing, and what I can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt is another thing," Bradford said.

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