By Allan Lengel
A former DEA agents pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing fraud proceeds that she had been assigned to recover on behalf of fraud victims, the Justice Department said.
Artemis Papadakis, 57, of Richmond, Calif., pleaded guilty in Southern California before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jill L. Burkhardt to an information charging her with theft by a government official.
Sentencing is set for Sept. 11.
Papadakis was stationed by the DEA in Nicosia, Cyprus, between 2008 and 2014, to help the U.S. Government recover the proceeds of an American fraud scheme that had been frozen in the banking system in northern Cyprus.
When Papadakis was transferred from Cyprus to San Francisco in June 2014, the funds had not yet been recovered.
Papadakis admitted that she was told not to pursue the matter regarding the funds following her transfer. But when she was in Cyprus in October 2015 on personal business, Papadakis took possession of $310,000 of the funds without notifying anyone at the DEA or in the U.S. Government.
According to the plea agreement, Papadakis mailed approximately $230,000 of those funds from Cyprus to her California home in California and later took possession of an additional $20,000 of those funds from a third party when he visited her in the U.S., a Justice Department press release said.
Papadakis admitted that she hid the $250,000 in her flower pots at her home in California. She also admitted that in February 2016 she handed over the $250,000 to the U.S. government under the false cover story that she had just received it via an unexpected package from Cyprus.