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Press Release

Credit Union Manager Sentenced for Embezzlement

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

NEW BERN, N.C. – A Wake Forest man was sentenced yesterday to 48 months in prison and five years of supervised release for embezzlement from a credit union.  On June 24, 2020, Johnnie Earl Harrell, 49, pled guilty to the charges.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, between 2008 and 2019, Harrell served as branch manager of a credit union located in Zebulon, NC.  During this period, Harrell exploited his position as branch manager to steal and embezzle at least $631,838.36 in funds belonging to the credit union and its customers. Among Harrell’s victims were retirees who Harrell convinced to rollover existing retirement accounts into annuities.  Harrell never purchased the annuities, but instead converted the victims’ funds to personal use.  Harrell prepared fraudulent annuity account statements which were periodically presented to victims to preclude detection of the scheme.

Harrell will be ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

G. Norman Acker, III, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. Homeland Security Investigations, the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations, and the Zebulon Police Department investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan  prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:20-cr-00152-FL-1.

Updated December 16, 2021

Financial Fraud