Former Oconee HR Director, Guilty of Aggravated Identity Theft in Public Corruption Scheme, is Sentenced to Prison
ATHENS, Ga. – The former Oconee County human resources director, who admitted to stealing taxpayer money in a complicated paycheck scheme, has been sentenced to prison for her crime and will have to pay restitution, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
Sherry Turner-Seila, 52, of Panama City Beach, Florida, formerly of Watkinsville, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal to 24 months in prison after she previously pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated identity theft. In addition, Turner-Seila was ordered to pay $118,451.80 in restitution to Oconee County. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Turner-Selia is paying a serious penalty for abusing the public’s trust by stealing taxpayer money,” said U.S. Attorney Charlie Peeler. “Investigating and prosecuting public corruption is a top priority for the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Public officials found abusing their power will be held accountable. I want to thank the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI for investigating this case.”
"Turner-Seila's choice to abuse her position of trust not only hurt taxpayers and co-workers, it eroded the public's trust in government," said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. "Now she must pay a serious penalty, which hopefully sends a message to the public that her actions will not be tolerated or go unpunished."
“Our partnership with the FBI and federal prosecutors brought this case to a quick resolution. We are very pleased with their hard work and resolve to bring this felon to justice,” said Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry.
Turner-Seila was employed as the Human Resources Director for Oconee County. As such, she was one of the few employees with access to the County’s payroll system, which transferred funds directly from the county bank account to the bank accounts of county employees. From July 6, 2016 to July 5, 2019, Turner-Seila concocted a scheme where she would use that access to temporarily change a former employee’s direct deposit information to her own personal bank account’s direct deposit information. In all, Turner-Seila stole $118,451.80 from Oconee County taxpayers.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Leary prosecuted 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.