WHITTIER (CBSLA) – A 40-year-old woman was arrested Thursday on federal charges alleging she stole tens of thousands of dollars from clients of several immigration law firms where she worked in Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

Tanya Garcia of Whittier was arrested by federal authorities at her home on six counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated theft. Federal prosecutors allege that theft of $181,344 occurred between October 2014 and October 2018.

According to the indictment, she would collect check payments from clients at her immigration law firms, but ask them to leave the “pay to” line blank.

She would then write in her own name and deposit the checks into her own bank account, which she used to pay her mortgage, credit card bills and buy clothes.

Furthermore, for check payments intended for the federal government, Garcia would go as far as to cross out the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” from the pay to line and write in her own name, prosecutors say.

Then, when those clients who had been defrauded realized they weren’t receiving legal services, Garcia would refuse to let them speak to their lawyers, the federal indictment claims.

Garcia faces a maximum sentence of 62 years in prison if convicted as charged.

If convicted of all charges, Garcia would face a statutory maximum sentence of 62 years in federal prison.

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