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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Georgia

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Defendant Involved In Defrauding Stepson's Business Of Close To One Million Sentenced On Conspiracy Charge

COLUMBUS – A defendant who testified last month that she was duped by an Alabama woman into conspiring to steal money from a Columbus business was sentenced today in Columbus federal court, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. The Honorable Clay D. Land sentenced Darlene Corbett, 65, of Phenix City, Alabama to 24 months in prison on Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, a charge she pled guilty to in July 2018. There is no parole in the federal system.

In her plea agreement, Ms. Corbett admitted she embezzled over $950,000 as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of The Grand Reserve of Columbus, an apartment complex owned by her stepson. Ms. Corbett later testified at the trial of her co-defendant, Dorita Clay, 51, of Selma, Alabama, in January 2019. Under oath, Ms. Corbett testified that the money she embezzled all went to Ms. Clay and was in the service of various schemes that Ms. Clay had convinced her were legitimate, include a pending multi-million dollar estate settlement and a multi-million lawsuit settlement that Ms. Clay claimed she was about to receive. Ms. Corbett further admitted at trial that she had conspired with Ms. Clay to embezzle the money, to then conceal the theft and deceive the FBI with a false story about business loans.

Both at trial and in her signed plea agreement filed with the court, Ms. Corbett admitted that the business loan story was not true and she had been induced to steal from her employer by Ms. Clay, who promised Corbett a future financial windfall. Even after being fired by The Grand Reserve in 2016, Ms. Corbett admitted to giving Ms. Clay her life’s savings, which she estimated was approximately $500,000.  A Columbus jury found Ms. Clay guilty on 21 counts of Wire Fraud and one count of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud on January 9, 2019. Ms. Clay will be sentenced for her crimes on April 9, 2019.

“The scheme of lies and theft concocted by Ms. Clay, and supported by Ms. Corbett, caused great harm to a reputable business and numerous individuals,” said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. “Today, Ms. Corbett has been held accountable for her role in this illegal racket, and soon Ms. Clay will have to face the consequences of swindling large amounts of money from her victims.  I want to recognize the good investigative work of our law enforcement partners in helping bring an end to this fraud.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals is prosecuting the case for the Government.

Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.

Financial Fraud
Updated February 5, 2019