Former Grovetown city clerk Vicky Vinson Capetillo has been charged with federal offenses of money laundering and payment theft.
According to a criminal information filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday, Capetillo is accused of stealing at least $5,000 from funds sent to Grovetown by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Capetillo is also accused of money laundering for allegedly taking a $1,500 check written on the city’s bank account, and depositing checks worth $1,000 and $500 into her own accounts.
A court date for Capetillo has not been set.
Federal investigators began looking into the small Columbia County municipality in June 2016 at the request of Mayor Gary Jones. Capetillo resigned in August 2016.
Grovetown settled two civil lawsuits this year. One cost the city $750,000 to settle claims of residents who contended their utility rates were inflated to cover theft and fraud. The other cost the city $150,000 to settle former employee Michele Payne’s whistle-blower case.
Payne said she was fired after she began looking into a customer’s complaint about trash collection.
Capetillo is the stepdaughter of city Councilman and former mayor Dennis Trudeau, and the daughter of former councilwoman and mayor Mary Ann Trudeau, who died last month from injuries suffered in a vehicle crash.
Capetillo faces unrelated theft charges in Columbia County Superior Court. She is accused of theft in the alleged misappropriation of about $20,000 from the Grovetown Lions Club. Capetillo served as the club’s treasurer.
The federal theft charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and the money laundering charge is punishable by up to 20 years.
Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or email@example.com.