Former County Employee Sentenced To 21 Months


Linda Noriega, a former assistant finance director for Gila County, was taken into custody Thursday in Globe after Superior Court Judge David R. Cole sentenced her to 21 months in prison for committing fraudulent schemes and artifices against the county.

She also was ordered to pay restitution of more than $20,000 to the county and will be under probation for seven years following her release from prison.

Court officials in Globe said Noriega must serve at least 17 months of her 21-month prison term. There was no information available at press time on where Noriega would be serving her sentence.

Noriega worked for the county for 19 years before she was fired Dec. 15, 1997, when county officials found evidence that she had used a travel advance fund to pay herself.

A county grand jury indicted Noriega in September 1998 on 13 felony charges allegedly committed between December 1995 and November 1997.

She was charged with misuse of public funds, theft, money laundering, and perjury in addition to four counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices.

Noriega entered a plea Feb. 4 on three of the 13 counts against her: one count each of theft, fraudulent schemes and practices and fraudulent schemes and artifices.

Hired by the county in 1979 as a receptionist with the health unit, Noriega went to work for the finance department in 1986 as a computer operator and became assistant finance director for the county in 1993.

Noriega was free on her own recognizance until Thursday.

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