Crime

He tried to charge personal items to the government, feds say. They weren’t buying it.

Matthew Wathen, 48, was arrested Dec. 19, 2017, by US Marshals on charges of theft of government funds and wire fraud.
Matthew Wathen, 48, was arrested Dec. 19, 2017, by US Marshals on charges of theft of government funds and wire fraud.

A contract specialist assigned to work at Stennis Space Center in Hancock County is facing federal charges for allegedly stealing more than $29,000 he charged for personal items on a government credit card, court records say.

Agents with the U.S. Marshals Service arrested Matthew Wathen on Tuesday following his indictment on federal charges of wire fraud and theft of government funds. Wathen was a contract worker for the U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Acquisitions and Grants, in Reston, Va., when he’s accused of using a government credit card issued to him to charge $29,092 in personal “unauthorized” items.

The theft, also referred to as embezzlement of funds, occurred in Harrison County on or around Nov. 28, 2015, through Oct. 3, 2016, according to federal court records.

The wire fraud charge accuses Wathen of sending electronic communications to government officials in Antrim County in the eastern district of Michigan for authorization to charge to his government credit card what he fraudulently described as official government travel expenses.

A criminal forfeiture has been filed in the case to recoup the stolen funds through the seizure of property or other means.

Wathen is being held at the Harrison County jail pending a court appearance.

Wathen was set for an initial appearance and arraignment on his charges in U.S. District Court in Gulfport on Wednesday before Magistrate Judge Robert H. Walker.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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