Former county administrator pleads guilty to using position to steal more than $700,000
An accountant who worked for two Alabama counties has been arrested for using her position to take more than $700,000 during the past decade, court records show.
Crista Madden was the county administrator in Franklin County when she created false purchase orders between December 2007-July 2017, state prosecutors wrote in court records. Madden created a scheme in which she made the payments for those fake orders to her personal accounts, the charging documents allege.
Madden was arrested today and booked into the Franklin County Jail on two counts of use of office for personal gain. Madden has pleaded guilty to the Class B felonies, which carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. She will be required to repay the county, Attorney General Steve Marshal said. Attempts to reach Madden or her attorney weren't immediately successful.
After leaving Franklin County last year, Madden became the Chilton County Administrator in October. The Chilton County Commission Chairman told AL.com that Madden resigned this past Thursday. The commission will meet tonight to formally accept her resignation.
"It's a surprise," Chairman Allen Caton told AL.com. "She has the best personality. She fit our office like she was at home. It was like she had been here all of her life."
Madden had been on leave since March 1, after Chilton County officials learned of the Attorney General's investigation into the Franklin County case.
According to court documents, Madden would generate checks for the phony purchase orders by putting tape over the payee line and put the company name on the tape. She'd make a copy for county records, then remove the tape and make the checks out to herself.
She deposited $753,889 in her bank accounts, court records show.
Franklin County Probate Judge Barry Moore said he learned about discrepancies in the county's financial records several weeks ago and contacted the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts.
"The county commission, just like any other business, has checks and balances in place, such as audits, to try to prevent instances like this," Moore said in a statement. "However, the nature of how these events took place allowed for the discrepancies to go undetected. I will be working with our staff, county commissioners and others to see how we can more effectively strengthen our checks and balances and our ways for reviewing financial records so that something like this will not occur again in the future."
AG's office investigators probed the case.
"After being confronted...the defendant gave a full confession to both offenses," the AG's office wrote in court papers.
Caton said state auditors are checking financial records in Chilton County to make sure Madden didn't commit any crimes while she worked there.
"It's really just a formality," Caton said. "The way we run our office, it would almost be impossible for her to do something like that."
The chairman said there are three people who handle purchase orders and payments, meaning one person couldn't pull off Madden's scheme in Chilton County.
Madden is being prosecuted by Assistant AG Katie M. Langer.
"The people of Alabama deserve honest and trustworthy service from public employees and officials, and as Attorney General I am committed to prosecute those who abuse their positions for illegal personal gain," said AG Steve Marshall in a news release. "For nearly a decade, Crista Madden systematically plundered funds that belonged to Franklin County and betrayed her public trust. Due to the vigilance of the Examiners of Public Accounts, her crimes were discovered and reported to my office. I want to commend the outstanding work by Assistant Attorneys General Katie Langer and Chris Moore of my Criminal Trials Division and Special Agents of the newly-formed Cybercrime Lab in my Investigations Division for bringing this case to a successful conclusion."
Moore said "honesty, integrity, and doing what is right" are the principles he expects of himself and other Franklin County employees.
"As an employer, it is never easy to discover that someone who works for you has engaged in behavior that compromises the integrity of your business or office, which I know many people feel has happened in this instance," Moore said in his statement. "It's even harder to learn of instances such as this when you work closely with your employees and consider them to also be friends. Because of this, the events that have taken place over the past few weeks have been very difficult for me personally as well as the county commission. However, I believe it was of the utmost importance and my duty to the citizens of Franklin County to set aside my personal feelings and any negative effects this could have on me professionally, especially in light of the upcoming elections, and make sure this instance of impropriety was investigated immediately and that the truth was brought to light."
Former County Administrator Arrested for Using Office for Personal GainbyAshley Remkuson Scribd
Article From:- https://www.al.com