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Press Release

Manager of Zebulon Credit Union Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

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

WILMINGTON, N.C. – A Wake Forest man pleaded guilty today to theft and embezzlement from a credit union.

According to court documents, Johnnie Earl Harrell, 47, served as branch manager of a credit union located in Zebulon, NC.  From 2008 to 2019, Harrell exploited his position to steal and embezzle at least $645,000 in funds belonging to the credit union and its customers. Among Harrell’s victims were individuals convinced by Harrell to rollover existing retirement accounts into annuities.  Harrell never purchased the annuities, but instead converted the funds to personal use.  Harrell prepared fraudulent annuity account statements that were periodically presented to victims to preclude detection of the theft.

Harrell pleaded guilty to theft and embezzlement from a credit union and faces up to thirty years in prison when he is sentenced during the court’s November or December term.

Robert J. Higdon, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Jones accepted the plea. The United States Department of Homeland Security, the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations, and the Zebulon Police Department are investigating the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan is prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on our website. Related court documents and information are located 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.


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Updated June 24, 2020

Financial Fraud