Pamlico County sewer district’s bookkeeper pleaded guilty on Monday to charges of embezzling nearly half a million dollars during a seven year period from her employer.
Debra Annette Conway, 57, of New Bern, pleaded guilty to six felony counts of embezzlement in Pamlico County Superior Court and is sentenced to serve five to seven years in prison. Conway is also ordered to serve five years of probation, according to a press release from District Attorney Scott Thomas.
As part of her plea, Conway is ordered to pay $543,132.25 in restitution. The release stated Conway paid $162,616.39 in restitution at the time of sentencing, with the remaining balance to be paid as a condition of her probation once she is released from prison.
All together, Conway embezzled approximately $482,006.75.
Between 2013 and 2020, Conway was an employee and bookkeeper of the Bay River Metropolitan Sewer District of Pamlico County.
During a routine audit, an auditor discovered that money was being withdrawn from certain accounts of the sewer district in excess of what the books showed, the release stated. The auditor obtained the original bank records, discovering Conway had altered the statements in an attempt to hide any discrepancies.
The missing debts discovered by the audit were transferred to an entity that provided payroll services to the department.
During the seven years, records from the payroll company showed multiple unauthorized payroll deposits were made from the payroll company into a bank account in Conway’s name, totaling $289,209.39.
The release also stated, Conway acquired a fleet gas card and made unauthorized purchases of $12,416.96 of fuel, and caused the district to make unauthorized payments totaling $69,850.00 into her retirement account.
In addition, the release says Conway caused her payroll to be altered to stop the withholding taxes from being removed from her paycheck, totaling $71,072.30. Conway also caused the district to provide health insurance for her and her family de ella but did not cause the appropriate employee contribution to be withheld from her paycheck, which totaled $39,458.10.
The Pamlico County Superior Court ordered the forfeiture of any money held in certain banking and retirement accounts held by Conway to go toward restitution. Conway is also barred from holding any fiduciary or financial position during the term of her five year probation.
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