Monday, March 4, 2013

Prison sentence “fair and just” for former city payroll employee

Former city employee Sheryl Carroll was sentenced Monday to 40 months in prison for wire fraud.

The sentence is just one month shy of the maximum under federal sentencing guidelines.
In addition, Carroll was ordered to pay full restitution to the city and complete 100 hours of community service. Carroll will receive a letter in four to six weeks advising her of when to report to prison.

 “We believe this is a fair and just sentence,” City Administrator Wendy Gabriel said. “Carroll committed a crime and in the process violated the trust of the public and of her co-workers. She absolutely deserves this punishment.”

Carroll pleaded guilty Nov. 5 in United States District Court to six counts of wire fraud. Carroll worked for the city as a payroll coordinator since 2002. According to a plea agreement, in 2007 she began to divert money from City of Coeur d’Alene bank accounts to her own personal account instead of transferring those funds to vendors. The total amount she wired to herself was $365,000.
“City Finance and Legal employees worked tirelessly for days to bring the crime to light,” Gabriel said. “This was a complex embezzlement. It involved balancing multiple books, a high level of planning, sophistication and manipulation.”

During the city’s investigation, Carroll was repeatedly asked about the missing money and failed to provide answers.

“She lied to us for four days,” Gabriel said. “When we put the pieces together ourselves, only then, knowing she could no longer lie, did she go to the City Attorney and admit she did something wrong.”

In the wake of the crime, the Finance Department has instituted more procedures to prevent fraud, including additional security bank checks on city checks and more approvals on wire transfers. Outside of payroll, there are no more automated transactions. The Department is also setting up an account that will allow vendors to withdraw money. This way, both the city and the vendor would authorize the withdrawal.