Sorting by


Justice in black and white: African American woman receives 70-year prison sentence for masterminding complex theft plot while white woman gets probation

In early 2020, Valeria Denise Johnson Tennon, from Conroe, Texas was sentenced to 70 years in prison after pleading guilty to orchestrating a theft scheme.

Judge Patty Maginnis delivered Tennon’s conviction of first-degree aggregate theft in the 435th District Court. Additionally, Tennon was ordered to repay approximately $1.3 million to the affected payroll companies. 

The alleged scheme ran between November 2015 and November 2018, during which Tennon, along with her associates were accused of exploiting the trust of companies by posing as employees and manipulating timecards and other documents to deceive the companies into paying for work that was never performed.

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office described the operation as highly sophisticated, resulting in fraudulent gains of over $1 million from unsuspecting companies. In a previous statement, The District Attorney’s Office claimed that Tennon and her associates received commissions and salaries from the companies while remaining undetected for an extended period. District Attorney Brett Ligon emphasized the importance of trust in the business realm, stating, “Trust is ultimately the foundation of our ability to conduct business, and indeed the cornerstone of our economy.” While Ligon highlighted that this severe sentence serves as a deterrent to other sophisticated criminals who may attempt to exploit trust and engage in deceitful schemes from behind the anonymity of their computers.

Civil rights activist Quanell X has expressed his disagreement with the sentence given to Ms. Tennon, particularly when comparing it to three similar cases involving two white women and a white man in Montgomery County who were charged with the same offense but were only sentenced to probation. Quanell X suggests that this discrepancy indicates the persistence of a biased system.

Tennon and her family allege that she was coerced into pleading guilty with a promise of being placed on community supervision for 10 years. The family also alleges that during Tennon’s pleading hearing, she was under the influence of prescription medications that impaired her judgment. An anonymous credible source shared with our team that Tennon should not have been allowed to enter any plea while under the influence of prescription medications. 

It is important to recognize that impairments caused by prescription medications can affect an individual’s decision-making capabilities. If a Texas driver were found to have similar medications in their system while driving, they could be charged with a DWI due to the impairment. Therefore, accepting Tennon’s plea seems questionable. It is disheartening to observe a potential lack of education within the Montgomery County courts concerning mental health and the impairments that can be caused by prescription medication. – Anonymous healthcare provider

Furthermore, Christa Tatem, a Montgomery ISD counselor involved in beating a 7-year-old disabled black boy in 2020, faced no charges from the Montgomery County DA office. In fact, Tatem walked away without ever stepping foot in a criminal courtroom or jail. 

The lack of consequences for such actions raises concerns about the effectiveness and fairness of the legal system, especially considering that Tatem has a very close relationship to Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon. Whereas Tennon was nothing more than a minority trying to keep the doors open to her business. 

The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office was not available for comment.

Leave a Reply