Former Bookkeeper Sentenced to Prison for Stealing $600k+ from Employers
ATHENS, Ga. – The former bookkeeper for several Georgia real estate businesses who admitted to stealing more than $600,000 from her employers was sentenced to prison this week for her crimes.
Suzanne Brooks, 41, of Bogart, Georgia, was sentenced to serve 46 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and was ordered to pay $610,857.99 in restitution by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal on Aug. 18 after she previously pleaded guilty to wire fraud. There is no parole in the federal system.
“The U.S. Attorney’s Office will pursue cases against all those who use fraud and deception for their own profit, costing small businesses and citizens dearly,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Fraud creates a chain reaction of negative consequences for both its victims and the larger community. Our office and law enforcement is committed to holding fraudsters accountable for their crimes.”
“Brooks violated the trust placed in her by her clients and will now spend time in prison paying for her crimes,” said Keri Farley Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Hopefully, this sentence sends a message that the FBI is dedicated to working with our partners to protect our citizens from anyone seeking to defraud innocent victims for their own personal greed.”
According to court documents, Brooks was a bookkeeper from 2013 to 2018 for two individuals who owned real estate companies in Georgia. Brooks was entrusted with access to paper checks and online banking logon credentials for their businesses at multiple FDIC-insured institutions. Brooks ultimately used business bank accounts to make multiple payments towards personal credit card balances for her and her husband with various credit card companies, without authorization from the victims. Brooks used the money to pay for her living expenses, including utilities for her home, insurance payments, restaurants, first-class travel, online shopping, retail purchases, fine jewelry and to purchase inventory for her side business selling clothing with a multi-level marketing company. When her personal credit cards developed balances, Brooks repeatedly used the victims’ funds to pay off those balances at her discretion and without their authorization. Brooks concealed her theft by falsifying Profit & Loss statements and other files in the accounting software used by the businesses, resulting in both victims believing their businesses to be less profitable than they actually were. Brooks also altered bank statement records and wrote dozens of unauthorized checks to herself. In total, Brooks caused at least $659,106.38 of intended losses to the victims.
The case was investigated by FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lyndie Freeman prosecuted the case.