30-year Mammoth Cave employee pleads guilty of $170,000 theft

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PADUCAH, Ky. (KT) – A long-time employee of Mammoth Cave is being sent to federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing nearly $170,000 from the national park.

Leslie Lewis, 61, of Cave City was sentenced to two years imprisonment, 3 years of supervised release following the sentence, and ordered to pay restitution of $169,322, after her guilty plea to one count of theft of public money, according to the U. S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky.

According to a victim impact statement from Mammoth Cave National Park, Lewis, whose job was to supervise, track, reconcile and safeguard recreational fees to the park, instead used her position to steal publicly collected funds from the park by manipulating the fee collection system and the employees she supervised.

During a five-year period examined by investigators, it was determined Lewis stole nearly $170,000. Lewis confessed to using several means to steal from the park, including cutting and pasting to create false deposit documents, filling out false deposit reports, and utilizing a duplicate check scheme allowing her to take cash for a check amount that didn’t exist.

“Instead of serving as a steward to protect Mammoth Cave National Park, Ms. Lewis stole from one of the most iconic public spaces in our Commonwealth,” said U.S. Attorney Russell Coleman. “As a consequence, the defendant will soon find herself in radically different surroundings, federal prison.”

Lewis had worked for Mammoth Cave National for 30 years.

The case was investigated by the Inspector General of the National Park Service.

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