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Press Release

Former Childersburg City Councilwoman Sentenced To Three Years In Prison For Bank Fraud And Money Laundering

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Alabama

BIRMINGHAM -- A federal judge today sentenced a former Childersburg City Councilwoman to nearly three years in prison for bank fraud and laundering nearly $1 million from SouthFirst Bank, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Craig Caldwell, and IRS Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Veronica Hyman-Pillot.

U.S. District Judge Inge P. Johnson sentenced BONNY JEAN CARTER, 61, to two years and nine months in prison and ordered her to repay $37,200 to SouthFirst Bank, and $949,287 to its insurance company, Zurich Financial and Security. Carter pleaded guilty in December to one count each of bank fraud and money laundering. She is to report to prison May 13.

"This defendant used her position of trust with the bank she worked for to steal nearly $1 million from the bank over 10 years," Vance said. "Stealing from a financial institution will not go unpunished, and the prison sentence Ms. Carter received today is justice finally being served."

"IRS Criminal Investigation, along with our law enforcement partners, will vigorously pursue corporate officers who violate the public trust," Hyman-Pillot said. "We are committed to investigating complex financial transactions and money laundering schemes where individuals attempt to conceal the true source of their money. This sentence should serve as a deterrent to those who might contemplate similar fraudulent actions."

Carter had worked as an account clerk at the Sylacauga branch of SouthFirst Bank. In that position, between June 2004 and March 2013, she embezzled from the bank by converting money to personal savings accounts. Carter recorded journal entries to transfer money from various SouthFirst Bank general ledger accounts into personal accounts held in her daughter's name. She also skimmed amounts from checks made payable to SouthFirst Bank by depositing the funds into those personal accounts. Additionally, Carter issued debit transactions from SouthFirst Bank’s operating expense account to pay personal debts she owed.

The U.S. Secret Service and Internal Revenue Service investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin Beardsley Mark prosecuted.

Updated March 19, 2015