South Carolina Attorney Sentenced to Prison for Fraud in UA Sorority House Furnishing Scheme
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced a South Carolina attorney to six months in prison, followed by 18 months in home detention, for a scheme that involved submitting false invoices for furnishings and equipment for a University of Alabama sorority house and receiving payment without providing the items, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Craig Caldwell, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service Inspector in Charge Adrian Gonzalez.
JENNIFER ELIZABETH MEEHAN, 39, pleaded guilty in July to bank fraud before U.S. District Judge Madeline H. Haikala. Today, Judge Haikala imposed the prison time and home custody, to be followed by 40 months of supervised release. The judge also ordered Meehan to perform eight hours of community service each week during her home confinement and her supervised release, for a total of 58 months, or four years and 10 months. Judge Haikala fined Meehan $50,000.
Meehan already had returned more than $233,000 as part of her plea agreement with the government. Today she paid about $38,000 in restitution to Greek Resource Services.
Meehan, a former member of Gamma Phi Beta at Alabama, was acting in her position as president of the House Corporation Board of the Epsilon Lambda Chapter of Gamma Phi Beta Sorority in an unpaid, volunteer capacity when she carried out the fraud.
According to Meehan’s plea agreement, Gamma Phi Beta was building a $14 million sorority house and Meehan was responsible for coordinating and purchasing all furniture and associated implements for the house between September 2013 and March 2015.
Meehan executed a bank fraud scheme to illegally obtain money from First Citizens Bank & Trust Company and the Bank of Tuscaloosa, according to her plea agreement. Gamma Phi Beta Sorority’s account was at the Bank of Tuscaloosa. Meehan opened an account at First Citizens Bank under a fraudulent business name.
In September and November of 2014, Meehan submitted fraudulent furniture invoices totaling about $375,000 to Greek Resource Services, a contract company that handles the finances for fraternities and sororities at UA. GRS drew money from Gamma Phi Beta’s account at Bank of Tuscaloosa and gave Meehan two checks totaling about $375,000. She deposited that money into the newly opened First Citizens account.
In January 2015, Meehan entered a First Citizens Bank & Trust branch in Anderson, S.C., and wired $175,000 from the fraudulent business account into her personal business account at Bank of America for her personal use, according to her plea agreement.
The U.S. Secret Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigated the case, which Assistant U.S. Attorney David H. Estes prosecuted.