Former Amtrak Employee Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

Published 2:18 pm Friday, February 25, 2022

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced today that KENYA BUTLER-SMALL pleaded guilty on February 23, 2022 to two counts of wire fraud for conduct that occurred while she was employed by Amtrak as an On-board Services Train Attendant.

One wire fraud count relates to a scheme in which BUTLER-SMALL recruited more than 40 victims to spots on a purported June 2019 trip from New Orleans to New York City. BUTLER-SMALL told the victims that she had booked roundtrip Amtrak train travel for the trip, as well as activities, such as shows and museum visits. In truth, BUTLER-SMALL had not booked the Amtrak travel or the activities. When the date of the trip approached, BUTLER-SMALL told the victims, from whom she had taken a total of approximately $23,000 to $26,000, that Amtrak had canceled the trip because an incident occurred in which one of the trip’s passengers assaulted an Amtrak employee and made a bomb threat. In truth, no such incident had occurred.

The other wire fraud count is related to a scheme in which BUTLER-SMALL submitted fraudulent sick benefit claims to the Railroad Retirement Board, a federal agency that provides benefits to Amtrak employees. BUTLER-SMALL claimed that she was too sick to work when, in truth, she was working another job. This caused the government to pay BUTLER-SMALL approximately $4,679 in sick benefits for days she falsely claimed to have been unable to work.

BUTLER-SMALL is scheduled to be sentenced on June 15, 2022, by U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance. The maximum penalties for each count are up to 20 years imprisonment, up to three years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000, and a $100 mandatory special  assessment fee.

This case was investigated by the Amtrak Office of Inspector General and the Railroad Retirement Board Office of Inspector General. Assistant U.S. Attorney Chandra Menon is in charge of the prosecution.