United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Cherryville’s former Finance Director, Bonny Verley Alexander, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for embezzling over $435,000 from the city, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Alexander, 59, pleaded guilty to five counts of program embezzlement for misappropriating city funds over a six year period. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr. sentenced Alexander to 24 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release. He also ordered Alexander to pay restitution in the amount of $435,294.17.
John A. Strong, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division and Greg McLeod, Director of the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NC SBI) join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
According to the filed documents and facts presented at today’s sentencing hearing, from about August 2005 through her retirement in December 2011, Alexander embezzled at least $435,294 of Cherryville’s funds and used the money to pay for personal expenses. As Cherryville’s Finance Director, Alexander oversaw multiple departments and had access to city funds. Among other things, Alexander was in charge of processing payroll payments to city employees, directing payments for city expenses and issuing checks on behalf of the city. Alexander also had access to Cherryville’s electronic accounting systems and was authorized to make adjustments as needed, court records indicate.
Court documents show that Alexander made weekly payroll payments to herself which were more than 300% of her actual salary, totaling approximately $309,594. Alexander also issued city checks to pay for personal expenses, including shopping and travel expenses, charged on her personal credit card. According to filed documents, after issuing the city checks payable to American Express, Alexander forged on the checks the signature of another Cherryville employee who was the authorized signatory on the account. To conceal the fraud, once the forged checks had cleared and were returned by the bank, Alexander removed them from the city’s records. Alexander issued and forged 26 checks totaling approximately $97,000, to pay off personal charges on her American Express card.
Alexander was ordered to self-report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to begin serving her sentence upon designation of a federal facility. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation into Alexander was handled by the FBI and SBI. The prosecution is handled by Michael Savage, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.