Former Finance Manager for the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of Charitable Funds
ATLANTA - Gary Hilliard has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $272,000 from the Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command while serving as its finance manager.
“The Salvation Army provides a wide range of charitable programs and services to needy citizens in our community,” said U. S. Attorney John Horn. “Unfortunately, Mr. Hilliard chose to disregard his former employer’s motto of ‘Doing the Most Good’ by fraudulently diverting charitable funds to his own use without regard for the underprivileged who are in such desperate need of this help.”
“The United States Secret Service will continue to collaborate with its law enforcement partners to target and arrest individuals who violate the trust of our community to further their personal financial gain,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: Hilliard was hired as the finance manager for the Metro Atlanta Area Command in June 2008. As the finance manager, Hilliard supervised the accounts payable department and had the authority to approve vendor invoices and countersign checks to vendors. While carrying out these duties between December 2010 and December 2012, Hilliard embezzled more than $272,000.
Hilliard embezzled a significant portion of that money by creating and submitting bogus invoices and documents that purported to be from legitimate vendors and business partners of the Metro Atlanta Area Command to the accounts payable department. He submitted bogus invoices from advertising agencies who conducted fundraising campaigns on behalf of the Metro Atlanta Area Command, consultants, and other business partners. He chose vendors and businesses who submitted invoices to the Salvation Army on a routine basis because it was unlikely that these invoices or payments would be questioned, and because Hilliard was directly involved in the reconciliation of some of these accounts. He approved or caused these bogus invoices to be approved, which led to checks being generated from the Metro Atlanta Area Command’s operating account. Hilliard countersigned these checks in his role as finance manager, obtained or forged the appropriate authorized signature, then deposited them into bank accounts he controlled.
Initially, Hilliard deposited the checks into his personal checking and savings accounts. Beginning in June 2011, Hilliard opened bank accounts in some of the vendors’ names and deposited the fraudulently obtained checks. To accomplish this, Hilliard submitted three separate false sworn applications to Cobb County, Georgia, to register businesses in the names of the vendors.
On each of these applications, Hilliard falsely stated that he was conducting business in Cobb County in the name of the vendor, provided information on the vendor’s line of business, and stated that he was the sole person composing the business. He then presented each business certificate issued by Cobb County to the bank to open a business bank account in the vendor’s name, and deposited checks made out to the vendor into that account. Hilliard’s scheme unraveled in December 2012, when his bank questioned a discrepancy between the name of the payee on a Metro Atlanta Area Command check and the depository account and decided to contact the Metro Atlanta Area Command.
Sentencing for Gary Hilliard, 47, of Mableton, Georgia, is scheduled for March 31, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. before United States District Judge Leigh Martin May.
This case is being investigated by the United States Secret Service. The Salvation Army Metro Atlanta Area Command fully cooperated with the investigation.
Assistant United States Attorney Sally B. Molloy is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.