Operations Manager Gets 41 Months.
Byline: Peter Strozniak
It took federal prosecutors in Georgia three years to charge and convict a former operations manager who manipulated an accounting system to steal nearly $500,000 from Georgia Power Valdosta Federal Credit Union.
U.S. District Court Judge Hugh Lawson in Valdosta, Ga. sentenced Kelly Yawn, 32, on March 25 to 41 months in federal prison for bank fraud and filing false federal tax returns.
Judge Lawson also ordered Yawn to pay restitution totaling $628,539 to the fraud victims. He also ordered her to pay $139,865 in back taxes to the IRS on the stolen money she failed to report on her federal income tax returns from 2008 to 2011, according to court documents.
While she was employed at the $22 million GPVFCU from February 2008 to November 2011 as an operations manager, Yawn had access to the cooperative's computer system, which enabled her to make changes to the accounting books.
In court papers, federal prosecutors explained that Yawn changed what is known as an alias number for her account so that items would not post against share draft accounts in her name and in the name of her husband. The alias is a number that is used to identify accounts and connect draft items to an account when items are posted.
By changing the alias number, Yawn was able to write checks and make ACH transactions that would not be posted or charged against her account. Instead, the funds would be paid by the credit union. Yawn also used a credit union printer to create share drafts payable to her benefit on an account that did not exist, prosecutors said in court documents.
All of the unposted items, including those on her account and those on the fake account, were moved to an exception file. Prosecutors said Yawn acknowledged the exceptions related to fraudulent items so that the transactions would be removed from the exceptions file, remain uncollected from any account and not be further processed.
Yawn posted more than 900 false share drafts and more than 1,200 ACH transactions that led to the credit union losing nearly $500,000.
To avoid detection by the credit union and outside auditors, prosecutors said, Yawn occasionally posted large fraudulent deposits in GPVFCU accounts to make it appear that the credit union had more funds on hand than it actually did.
After leaving the credit union in November 2011, Yawn's efforts to cover up her fraud worked for three years because federal prosecutors did not charge her with bank fraud until Jan. 6, 2015 when she pleaded guilty, according to court records.
Joyce R. Jones, president/CEO of GPVFCU, declined to comment when contacted by CU Times.