USDA EMPLOYEE PLEADS GUILTY TO LYING IN ORDER TO SECURE LOANS TO HIDE MORE THAN $600,000 IN THEFTS FROM FEDERALLY FUNDED NON-PROFIT
MONROE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today that Donna Jean Remides, 51, of Winnsboro, La., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Robert G. James to lying on loan applications in order to receive loans used to hide the theft of $640,000 from a federally funded non-profit.
A trial started Monday but ended today as the prosecution was calling witnesses to testify. Remides decided to plead guilty to the charge of making a false statement to a bank instead of continuing with the trial. Witness testimony and documents admitted at trial and the guilty plea revealed that Remides was employed as a project coordinator by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to work for the non-profit Northeast Delta Resource Conservation and Development Council (NDRC&DC) in Winnsboro. From January 2001 to December 2010, Remides used the NDRC&DC accounts to pay herself $640,000 without authorization from the NDRC&DC. She wrote herself and her private business checks over the nearly 10-year period. She also obtained loans in the name of the council to cover the thefts. Loan documents were filled out stating that the council members had authorized loans at meetings when in fact they had not.
Remides faces 30 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and five years of supervised release for one count of making a false statement to a bank. Sentencing has been set for Oct. 7, 2013.
The USDA, Office of Inspector General in Jackson, Miss., and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan is prosecuting the case.