KANAWHA COUNTY, WV (WOWK) – A West Virginia woman pleaded guilty in federal court on Tuesday to defrauding the American Red Cross.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Tonja Oakes, 58, of Cross Lanes, pleaded guilty to a charge of wire fraud and admitted that she defrauded the ARC while employed at its Cross Lanes Office. The DOJ says she was hired by the ARC as a business operations specialist in 2015. The role included acting as the purchasing agent for the ARC Central Appalachian Region, according to the court.

Court records say Oakes position changed in March 2019 to executive assistant to the chief executive officer of the ARC Central Appalachian Region. In her new role, her duties included reviewing monthly statements of credit cards the ARC issued to certain employees and approving those statements for payment. The DOJ says this includes reviewing and approving her own expenditures.

According to the DOJ, Oakes admitted that she made multiple unauthorized purchases with the credit card provided to her by ARC between Feb. 17, 2017, through at least Oct. 5, 2020. Court records say this included a $973.77 payment to service a vehicle in 2020, purchases while on vacation in South Carolina, and purchasing groceries and personal items through Amazon.

The DOJ says she admitted to using her position at the ARC to approve those credit card statements even though she knew many of the payments were not authorized.

Oakes sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 7, 2023. The DOJ says she faces up to 20 years in prison followed by three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. Oakes also agreed to pay $21,943 in restitution, according to court records.