Carter hearing Wednesday; Conn case set for jury trial in January
by Bill Kimber
Dec 02, 2013 | 2139 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA COUNTY - Criminal cases are moving forward in federal court against two Talladega County defendants including a Childersburg city councilwoman whose case is set for a hearing this Wednesday, according to court records.

Bonnie Carter is charged with bank fraud and money laundering, accused of embezzling more than $900,000 over 11 years from SouthFirst Bank in Sylacauga. She has filed a plea agreement in the case agreeing to plead guilty as prosecutors agreed to reduce her offense level and to recommend a sentence at the low end of the advisory guidelines. Her case is set for a consent hearing at 8:30 Wednesday morning.

Carter was elected to represent Childersburg’s Ward C in 2008, and was elected to a second four-year term in August 2012.

Maximum punishment on the bank fraud charge is 30 years imprisonment plus $1 million in fines; the money laundering charge could result in a 20-year sentence and $500,000 fine. Although she informed the court that she will be pleading guilty, the plea has not been formally entered.

The plea agreement stipulates that between June 2004 and March 2013, Carter embezzled money by transferring it into savings accounts in her daughter’s name, then having her daughter withdraw the money for her. The transfers were made by recording journal entries from general ledger accounts and by skimming money from checks made payable to SouthFirst. Carter also made electronic transfers from the bank’s operating expense account to pay bills on her own behalf or on behalf of her relatives. Some of those transfers went to the Alabama Department of Revenue, Alabama Power, AT&T, Capital One, Department of Education Student Loans, Hoovers Tax, HSBC Card Services, One Main Financial, Santander, Shelby Tax Filing and T-Mobile.

As part of the agreement, Carter agreed to pay restitution of $951,787.06 to SouthFirst, to serve some prison time and to pay a fine in accordance with the sentencing guidelines. And, she noted that she understood that the court is not bound by the plea agreement in making its sentencing decision.

In the other Talladega County case, businessman Frank Conn faces five counts of wire fraud. His case is set for a jury trial beginning Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 before Chief Judge Karen O. Bowdre.

Conn’s case concerns billing for clearing power lines for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He was indicted by a federal grand jury of overcharging $152,712 over the course of his company’s contract with TVA. There will be a final pretrial conference in the case on Wednesday, Jan. 15.

Contact Bill Kimber at bkimber@dailyhome.com