Des Arc Couple Pleads Guilty to Bank Fraud and Money Laundering
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Tracey D. Montaño, Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division, and Wanda C. Merritt, Field Office Director of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that Rhonda Williams, 50, and her husband, Gary Williams, 59, both of Des Arc, Arkansas, appeared before Chief United States District Judge Brian S. Miller and pleaded guilty to a 2-count felony information, charging them with conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering. In addition, they have also agreed to forfeit the proceeds of the fraud.
Rhonda Williams was the Executive Director of the Cotton Plant Housing Authority. Gary Williams was the Housing Authority’s Maintenance Supervisor. The Housing Authority received its annual operating funds from HUD in the form of an annual distribution into its account at Signature Bank of Arkansas.
From January 31, 2001 to December 31, 2014, the Williams conspired to execute a scheme to obtain money and property under the custody and control of Signature Bank of Arkansas by means of false and fraudulent pretenses. As part of the scheme to defraud, they made material misrepresentations concerning the reasons for the payment of money intended for use by the Housing Authority, solicited and accepted bribes and kickbacks from Housing Authority contractors, caused the Housing Authority to pay their personal expenses on their Housing Authority credit cards, and took Housing Authority equipment and materials and used them in the construction of their personal residence.
As part of their plea agreements, the defendants agreed that they received more than $52,000.00 from this conspiracy. The full extent of the loss will be litigated at sentencing. The Court has not yet set a date for the sentencing hearing.
This investigation was conducted by IRS-Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Assistant United States Attorney Cameron McCree prosecuted the case for the United States.