Medical Practice Manager Convicted of Fraud and Tax Charges
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal jury convicted a woman last night on multiple charges of wire fraud, bank fraud and filing false federal income tax returns.
According to court records and evidence presented at trial, Sherea Darnell, 34, who recently resided in Williamsburg, worked as the practice manager for the Cullom Eye and Laser Center in Williamsburg from 2012 to 2016. Both Darnell and Dr. Robert Cullom were actually W-2 employees of Riverside. Over a four-year period, Darnell used three of Dr. Cullom’s credit cards to conduct personal transactions for her own benefit totaling approximately $514,000. She also obtained access to Dr. Cullom’s Wells Fargo Advisors accounts, which she used to pay the balances of the credit cards without his authority, including an account that had been established to pay for medical equipment, but which Darnell diverted into making payments on the credit cards. Darnell used the victim’s credit cards to pay for her son’s pre-school tuition which she deducted on her 2016 tax return. She also took over $90,000 in cash advances, transferred funds into her personal bank accounts, hired a maid service, purchased high-end clothing and airline tickets for herself and her family and made a deposits and payments on luxury vehicles. Darnell failed to report any of these funds obtained via the credit cards on her tax returns for the years 2013-2015. Following her resignation in August 2016, Darnell continued to use Dr. Cullom’s credit cards to pay her moving expenses, obtain additional cash advances and make other purchases until Dr. Cullom discovered the fraud and shut down the accounts.
Darnell faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison when sentenced on October 24. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Kelly R. Jackson, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Washington, D.C. Field Office, IRS-Criminal Investigation, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Henry Coke Morgan, Jr. accepted the verdict. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Howard J. Zlotnick and Brian J. Samuels are prosecuting the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information is located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:17-cr-92.