Former Prison Supervisor Convicted of Fraud
BATON ROUGE, LA - United States Attorney Walt Green announced today that a former Colonel at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, SHIRLEY WHITTINGTON, age 46, of St. Francisville, Louisiana, has been convicted of wire fraud. Yesterday, WHITTINGTON pled guilty before U.S. District Judge James J. Brady to engaging in wire fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1343.
The guilty plea arises from WHITTINGTON’s time as Treasurer of the Angola Employees Recreation Committee (“AERC”), a limited liability company formed to enrich its members through recreational activities and community events. The AERC raised funds from various sources and its finances were subject to internal audits and review.
In connection with her guilty plea hearing, WHITTINGTON admitted to a factual summary which detailed her wire fraud scheme. According to the factual summary, WHITTINGTON served as Treasurer of the AERC from February of 2006 thought June of 2016. Her duties included, among other things, depositing AERC funds, purchasing items and services, approving purchases, check writing, preparing financial statements, account reconciliation, and working with an external accountant for any audit or annual tax filings. In order to facilitate her financial oversight and reporting of AERC funds and purchases, WHITTINGTON maintained a QuickBooks accounting log. She also had signature authority for AERC bank accounts and was issued AERC debit cards.
Between March of 2009 and May of 2016, as part of her scheme to defraud and to obtain money from the AERC, WHITTINGTON diverted organization funds for her own benefit and for the benefit of her associates through online and local retailer purchases, ATM withdrawals, cashback and countercheck transactions, and by removing cash from concession sale deposits. Throughout the course of her scheme, she fraudulently diverted thousands of dollars in AERC funds.
In order to conceal her diversion of AERC funds, WHITTINGTON fraudulently omitted vendor names and designated certain purchases as “misc” or “misc. business expenses” in relevant portions of the AERC QuickBooks log. These material misrepresentations served to disguise her use of AERC funds for her own personal benefit or the benefit of her associates and to create the false impression that these transactions were legitimate business expenses of the AERC.
U.S. Attorney Green stated, “Public corruption has been and will continue to be a top priority for this office. I greatly appreciate the work of the FBI, the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office, the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office, and the other state and local agencies who assisted on this important matter. A unified effort is essential to battling corruption.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Sallet stated, “Citizens expect that every public official will fulfill their obligations with integrity and respect. The FBI will investigate any public officials who attempt to enrich themselves unjustly by profiting from their position and abusing the trust that others have placed in them.”
Louisiana Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera stated, “Louisiana's taxpayers want -- and deserve -- public officials and employees who do not use their positions to serve their own interests. We take public corruption very seriously and will continue to work with the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, and state and local law enforcement agencies to stop the misuse of public funds in Louisiana.”
The matter is being handled by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana and the Baton Rouge Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with substantial assistance provided by investigative auditors from the Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office. The matter is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Chris Dippel, who serves as a Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division.