Listed in court documents as Bonny Jean Carter, the Ward C council member was an account clerk at the bank and embezzled money between October 2002 and March 2013, according to information filed in court. She did so by recording journal entries to transfer funds from various SouthFirst general ledger accounts into personal accounts in the name of her daughter; by skimming from checks payable to SouthFirst; and by issuing payments via Automated Clearing House from SouthFirst’s operating expense account to pay her personal debts, the court document said.
An information is usually a formal accusation by a government attorney that the defendant committed a misdemeanor, but it may also be used when a defendant waives an indictment by a grand jury, according to the Federal Judicial Center’s website.
The money laundering charge involves Carter transferring $2,894 into an account in her daughter’s name to conceal or disguise ownership and control of the account, the information said.
Prosecutors want Carter to forfeit $951,787.06, the total she took through the years, according to court documents.
Carter will be arraigned in the Hugo L. Black U.S. Courthouse at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 17 before U.S. Magistrate Judge Madeline H. Haikala. A court employee said in arraignments, defendants’ charges are entered into the record and defendants plead not guilty, then are either released on bond or taken into custody. Carter’s case will be scheduled for the Dec. 2 trial docket, according to court documents.
Carter was elected to represent Childersburg’s Ward C in 2008, and was elected to a second four-year term in August 2012.
Childersburg Mayor B.J. Meeks said he learned about the charges against Carter Wednesday morning by telephone.
He said he believed being charged wouldn’t affect Carter’s status as a member of the city council, and that only a conviction would do so.
On a personal level, Meeks said he was shocked and saddened by the news. “After reality hit, I got that sinking sick feeling about it, for her and her family and for the governing body. You work with someone on the council and you go through battles together and you get pretty involved with them. I hope it’s not true.”
The voice mailbox at Carter’s home number was full, and her attorney, Joel Dillard of Birmingham, did not return a call seeking comment. SouthFirst CEO Randall Fields was out of town this week, and bank official Anna Tyler did not return a call seeking comment.