The following indictments were received from Barry L. Paschal Public Affairs Officer from the Office of the United States Attorney - Southern District of Georgia. Criminal indictments contain only charges; defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Former Camden County Public Service Authority Executive Director sentenced to federal prison for tax evasion
BRUNSWICK, GA: The former executive director of the Camden County Public Service Authority is going to federal prison for misappropriating funds intended for payment of employees’ federal payroll taxes.
William Brunson, 53, of Kingsland, Ga., was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison on Aug. 24, by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood after pleading guilty to one count of Tax Evasion, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Judge Wood also ordered Brunson to pay restitution of $677,768.40 and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term.
There is no parole in the federal system.
According to court documents and testimony, Brunson was responsible for paying over to the Internal Revenue Service employment taxes on behalf of the Public Service Authority (PSA). Federal taxes were withheld from employees’ paychecks from 2014 to 2016, but Brunson failed to remit more than $677,000 that was due to the IRS. In addition to not filing his personal tax returns during that period, Brunson also used a Camden County PSA credit card and other funds for his personal use, including the purchase of antique cars and car parts.
Brunson was terminated from the PSA in May 2018 after an audit of PSA finances and an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI).
The case was investigated by the IRS, the FBI and the GBI, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.
Firearms thief sentenced to prison for pawning dozens of stolen guns
BRUNSWICK, GA: A Glynn County woman will spend nearly five years in federal prison for stealing and selling dozens of firearms.
Elaina Carter, 38, of Brunswick, was sentenced to 57 months in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood after pleading guilty on Aug. 17, to Possession of Stolen Firearms. Carter also will be required to serve three years of supervised release after completion of her prison sentence. There is no parole in the federal system.
According to court documents and testimony, Carter stole and pawned numerous items from June 2018 to January 2019, including 37 firearms. She has previous convictions on state charges in Glynn County for burglary, theft by receiving, and theft by deception.
The case was investigated by the ATF and the Glynn County Police Department, and prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela C. Mateo.
Camden County man snared in child sex-trafficking sting sentenced to federal prison
BRUNSWICK, GA: A Camden County man snagged in a child sex-trafficking sting will spend more than five years in federal prison.
Charles Barreras, 49, of Kingsland, Ga., was sentenced to 62 months in federal prison on Aug. 17, by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood after pleading guilty to Attempted Coercion and Enticement. After completion of his prison term, Barreras will be required to serve 10 years of supervised release and to register as a sex offender.
Barreras is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy, stationed at Submarine Base Kings Bay in Kingsland. He and eight other men were indicted in July 2019 because of Operation Do You Know Your Neighbor, coordinated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.
Three of the remaining defendants in the operation have been sentenced to federal prison, while others await sentencing after entering guilty pleas, or are awaiting trial.
The sting was set up by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service and the GBI’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force for the purpose of identifying adults who were seeking out children for indecent purposes. Other agencies participating in the investigation included the Camden County Sheriff’s Office, the Kingsland Police Department, the Effingham County Sheriff’s Office and the Savannah Police Department.
This case was prosecuted for the United States by Assistant U.S. Attorney Marcela Mateo and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Katelyn Semales.
Former HR Director Pleads Guilty, Facing $118k Payback of Stolen Funds
ATHENS, Ga. – The former human resources director for Oconee County, Georgia has admitted to stealing taxpayer money in a complicated paycheck scheme, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
Sherry Turner-Seila, 52, of Panama City Beach, Florida, formerly of Watkinsville, Georgia, entered a guilty plea on Aug. 17, to one count aggravated identity theft before U.S. District Judge C. Ashley Royal. The defendant faces a mandatory two years in prison, a $250,000 fine and one-year supervised release. In addition, the signed plea agreement states that both parties agree the defendant owes $118,451.80 in restitution to Oconee County. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 18, 2020. There is no parole in the federal system.
Turner-Seila was employed as the Human Resources Director for Oconee County. As such, she was one of the few employees with access to the County’s payroll system, which transferred funds directly from the county bank account to the bank accounts of county employees. From July 6, 2016 to July 5, 2019, Turner-Seila concocted a scheme where she would use that access to temporarily change a former employee’s direct deposit information to her own personal bank account’s direct deposit information. In all, Turner-Seila stole $118,451.80 from Oconee County taxpayers.
The case was investigated by the FBI and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office. First Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Leary prosecuted the case for the Government. Questions can be directed to Pamela Lightsey, Public Information Officer, United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 621-2603 or Melissa Hodges, Public Affairs Director (Contractor), United States Attorney’s Office, at (478) 765-2362.
Veteran sentenced for faking Military-Related Mental Health Illness To Claim VA Benefits
COLUMBUS, Ga. – A veteran who reaped federal monetary benefits for faking a mental health condition and who falsely claimed to have earned two of the highest honors bestowed for military service was sentenced on Aug. 18, and will pay restitution for his crimes, said Charles “Charlie” Peeler, the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.
Gregg Ramsdell, 61, of Columbus, was sentenced to 12 months in prison, the top of his federal sentencing guideline range, three years supervised release and was ordered to pay $76,000 in restitution to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) by U.S. District Judge Clay Land after pleading guilty to one count of false statements and one count of violation of the Stolen Valor Act. There is no parole in the federal system.
Ramsdell admitted that he falsely claimed to have suffered post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) when he applied for disability payments from the VA on September 7, 2014. Ramsdell wrote that he witnessed horrible atrocities during deployment in Afghanistan from October 2008 to March 2009. Among other stressors, he stated he had seen “men, women and children being executed. Women holding babies while detonating themselves. IED explosions causing severe bodily injuries and death. Retrieving body parts and bagging them. Having blood and body excrements being blown onto my uniform.” He also falsely claimed that these experiences made him “unable to live a normal life.” As a result of Ramsdell’s false claims, the VA gave him added PTSD benefits retroactive to his military discharge date of June 1, 2014 totaling $76,000.
The investigation found that Ramsdell was not in Afghanistan during that period that he claimed to witness the atrocities that supported his false PTSD claim, and he admitted to investigators that he lied about having PTSD.