Saturday, July 18, 2009

Former Assistant Treasurer Sentenced to Federal Prison for Embezzling $139,000 from Charitable Organization

PAMELA D. JONES, 36, of Tucker, Georgia, was sentenced July 15 by United States District Judge Orinda D. Evans to serve 18 months in federal prison on charges that she embezzled more than $139,000 from ServeHAITI, a charitable organization that receives federal funds.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “This defendant was the Assistant Treasurer for ServeHAITI, a charitable organization that provides medical, financial, and other assistance to impoverished areas in Haiti. Abusing her position, she embezzled more than $139,000 and used the money for her own selfish purposes, depriving the needy people who were intended to benefit. Stealing from a charity is disgraceful criminal conduct that should lead to time in prison.”

JONES was sentenced to 18 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. She has repaid $10,000 of the embezzled amount and was ordered to pay the remaining $129,454.79 in restitution to ServeHAITI. JONES pleaded guilty to the charges on May 5, 2009.

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: While working as a records management assistant at an Atlanta law firm, JONES was assigned to work part time as Assistant Treasurer of ServeHAITI, Inc., a non-profit organization that receives federal funding and provides assistance to certain parts of Haiti. ServeHAITI’s initial projects included sponsoring a program for water purification and construction of a medical clinic. In 2006, ServeHAITI was the recipient of a three-year award of $1.17 million funded by USAID under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, to provide HIV-related education and prevention services in Haiti. ServeHAITI also receives private contributions.

While acting as Assistant Treasurer, from June 2007 through December 2008, JONES diverted a total of $139,454.79 from ServeHAITI’s bank accounts to her own personal accounts. She initially wrote checks to herself or “cash” and then, in July 2008, began using wire transfers to divert the money. During the course of her embezzlement scheme, JONES changed the on-line password to ServeHAITI’s bank accounts, advised the bank that only her authorization was necessary to effect wire transfers, and instructed the bank to stop mailing wire confirmations to the Treasurer of ServeHAITI. Once she had exclusive authority to effect wire transfers, she was able to transfer money on-line from ServeHAITI accounts to her own on dozens of occasions while concealing her actions from the Treasurer and without making any verbal request of the bank. JONES used the embezzled money to purchase a car, clothes, and other personal items for herself, and to take a trip to Las Vegas.

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