An Alabama man has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $3 million from the electric company where he worked, spending much of it on baseball and football cards.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Northern Alabama says John “Jack” Willis stole the money over an 18-year period as a member services supervisor at Arab Electric Company in Arab, AL. He wasn’t caught until a routine audit in March by the Tennessee Valley Authority uncovered irregularities.
Willis, a married father with children, used the money to buy a mobile home near Auburn University, automobiles and to cover living expenses for his college age children. However, according to a plea agreement, Willis admitted “most of the embezzled funds were used to purchase an extensive baseball and football card collection.”
There was no word from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on exactly what type of cards Willis bought with the money.
According to the plea agreement:
Willis created new deposit slips by removing the cash line item from the original deposit, and manipulated billing software to reflect paid balances on customer accounts.
Willis was responsible for collecting and subsequently depositing cumulative daily customer deposits from the tellers at the Co-Op into the Arab Electric Cooperative’s Bancorp South account.
Willis was also responsible for receiving and processing incoming mail. The tellers were responsible for compiling daily customer deposits, completing a deposit ticket itemizing the aggregate amount of checks and cash received from customers, and placing the checks, cash, and deposit ticket into a zippered bank bag. The tellers would then relinquish the same to Willis who was responsible for making the final deposit into the Arab Electric Cooperative’s Bancorp South account.
Willis simply removed cash from the tellers’ daily deposit bags then replaced the amount of cash taken with another customer’s check of the same amount that he received in the mail. Willis then completed a new deposit ticket reflecting a larger aggregate check amount deposited than cash, but the overall amount of checks and cash deposited equaled the original amount received from the tellers.
Willis maintained complete autonomy within the Arab Electric Cooperative accounting computer system that maintains customer accounts. Because of this, after Willis removed cash from daily deposits, he was able to manipulate the system to reflect paid balances on the customer accounts who paid with cash.
Willis moved any outstanding balance on the customer’s account by reflecting a paid credit prior to the customer’s due date. Willis then moved the negative credit to one or more Co-Op customer accounts he controlled, or to a dormant account.”
He’ll be sentenced at a later date.