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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

Friday, March 11, 2016

Women sentenced for Natchitoches bank fraud scheme

ALEXANDRIA, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that two women were sentenced Tuesday for conspiring to steal money from the bank where they worked.

Deirdre Christophe Nelson, 36, of Natchez, La., and Valerie K. Culpepper, 36, of Natchitoches, La., were sentenced to 21 months and one month respectively by U.S. District Judge Dee D. Drell. Nelson was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and Culpepper was sentenced on one count of conspiracy to make false statements in bank records. They were also sentenced to three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $355,649 in restitution. According to the guilty pleas, Nelson, who worked as a bank manager at a Natchitoches bank, conspired with Joe Lee Colbert Jr., 38, of Baton Rouge, to take more than $300,000 from 2011 until July of 2014 from the bank. Nelson would steal cash money and issue money orders from the bank to be deposited into Colbert’s account. Culpepper, the head bank teller, falsified bank records to hide money stolen during that time.

Colbert was sentenced on January 26, 2016 to 21 months in prison and three years of supervised release. He must also share in the payment of restitution Nelson and Culpepper were ordered to pay. Nelson pleaded guilty on September 10, 2015, and Culpepper pleaded guilty on July 17, 2015.

The FBI and conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Cytheria D. Jernigan prosecuted the case.

Updated March 11, 2016