Friday, April 24, 2009

Former Accountant Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling $164,000 from Charitable Organization

CAROLYN EDWARDS HERRON, 48, of Lithonia, Georgia, was sentenced to prison yesterday by United States District Judge Marvin H. Shoob on charges that she embezzled more than $164,000 from a charitable organization that receives federal funds.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “The defendant was the Chief Financial Officer for Traveler’s Aid of Metropolitan Atlanta, a charitable organization that provides housing, support and assistance to homeless men, women and children in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Abusing her position, she embezzled more than $164,000.00 of the charity’s funds, and used that money for her own needs. Because of her crime, Traveler’s Aid was deprived of funds that were intended to be used to provide food, shelter, medical care and financial assistance for some of Atlanta’s neediest residents. The prison sentence handed down today reflects the seriousness of this defendant’s criminal conduct, and should serve as a deterrence to others who might be tempted to enrich themselves at the expense of Atlanta’s neediest citizens.”

Kenneth M. Donohue, Inspector General for the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Inspector General, said, “HUD's Office of Inspector General is committed to ensuring taxpayers' dollars are put to good use and HUD programs are free from waste, fraud and abuse. This joint prosecutorial effort by the U.S. Attorney's Office and HUD's Office of Inspector General has helped send a strong message that those who seek to unlawfully profit by defrauding programs within HUD face federal prison.”

HERRON was sentenced to 2 years in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. She was also ordered to pay $164,651.94 in restitution to Traveler’s Aid of Metropolitan Atlanta, Inc.

HERRON pleaded guilty to the charges on January 20, 2009.

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: HERRON was employed as the Chief Financial Officer of Traveler’s Aid from February 2005 through August 2007. In that position she was authorized to prepare and sign checks and she was solely responsible for preparing the payroll. HERRON embezzled funds from Traveler’s Aid in a variety of ways. On several occasions after employees left their employment with Traveler’s Aid, HERRON kept them on the payroll, but diverted the electronic deposit of their paychecks to her own checking account. She gave herself three significant, unauthorized raises. On two occasions she paid herself twice for the same pay period. She also wrote checks from Traveler’s Aid accounts to pay her personal expenses and to pay for personal charges on a credit card that was issued to her by the charity. Traveler’s Aid receives federal grant funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development each year.

This case was investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Assistant United States Attorney William L. McKinnon, Jr., prosecuted the case.

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