Man sentenced for embezzlement

Employee stole from children's nutrition program

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Editor's Note: This story has been updated to reflect the following clarification, added Monday, June 20: Because of incomplete information received, the church involved in the embezzlement scheme that Bernard Walker pleaded guilty to was unclear in an article that appeared Saturday in the Metro section. The church was Thankful Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Ga.



For two years, Bernard Walker used fraudulently obtained checks to buy cars -- a Jaguar, a Cadillac, an Audi, a BMW -- then pocketed the extra cash he got back.

He covered his trail in different ways, including writing himself a check out of a church's bank account, but he couldn't escape scrutiny indefinitely.

On Thursday, Walker was sentenced to 33 months in prison, plus three years of supervised release, for embezzling money intended to pay for the meals and snacks of low-income children attending day care centers in 11 Georgia counties. He had been indicted on the federal charges Oct. 14.

Walker had access to the money as the nutrition specialist for the Central Savannah River Area Economic Opportunity Authority, which has headquarters on Greene Street. He worked at the organization for more than 10 years.

"We had no reason to suspect (he was embezzling money)," said Gloria Lewis, the executive director. "He built up a trust as he did his work."

Walker pleaded guilty through a plea bargain three months after his indictment.

"Stealing taxpayers' money that was allocated to buying meals for our children is reprehensible," U.S. Attorney Edward J. Tarver said.

The indictment shows Walker obtained the authority's checks by submitting false invoices from nonexistent vendors. He then used those checks to purchase six vehicles at Top Quality Auto in Waynesboro, Ga., including luxury cars, a Ford Mustang and a Ford Expedition.

In those instances, he gave the dealership checks in excess of the purchasing price and pocketed a check in return. The largest amount he received back was $10,196.44, the indictment showed.

He also bought a $475 rug at Goldberg's Furniture with a $4,634 check and got $4,158 back. In a separate incident, Walker deposited a $4,634 authority check into the bank account of Thankful Baptist Church in Waynesboro, then wrote a check to himself from the church's bank account for $4,632, the indictment stated.

Lewis said new safeguards have been put into place to prevent future theft, but she declined to give specifics. She added that there are policies in place that allow employees to report suspicious behavior without the fear of retaliation.

"We put a lot of trust in (Walker) as an employee, and he just didn't follow through," Lewis said.

Comments (10) Add comment
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CabisKhan
150
Points
CabisKhan 06/18/11 - 08:45 am
0
0
I don't see in the sentencing

I don't see in the sentencing that he has to pay the monies back and he will be out in 16 months. It doesn't seem very serious to STEAL our taxpayer's money.You can call it embezzelment, but it was outright theft. Judges seem to consider white collar crimes, no matter how heinous, to just be capricious misbehavior and treated as a misdemeanor.

allhans
22970
Points
allhans 06/18/11 - 09:59 am
0
0
Talk about a penalty that

Talk about a penalty that doesn't fit the crime!

OhWell
326
Points
OhWell 06/18/11 - 10:51 am
0
0
allhans you are so right, but

allhans you are so right, but what about the businesses that aided him in his scheme. They should be held accountable also.

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 06/18/11 - 11:09 am
0
0
U.S. Attorney Tarver is

U.S. Attorney Tarver is correct.

Wasn't this light sentence some of Judge Bowen's work?

TrukinRanger
1748
Points
TrukinRanger 06/18/11 - 11:37 am
0
0
Silly question... but what
Unpublished

Silly question... but what happens to the vehicles he bought and still had posession of?

david jennings
547
Points
david jennings 06/18/11 - 11:54 am
0
0
What a crummy individual,and

What a crummy individual,and all he could do with the money was buy cars.You would think his consience would at least made him leave the church a little somethiing.Yes the penalty was very light.

trimmy
29
Points
trimmy 06/18/11 - 01:12 pm
0
0
The people who manage
Unpublished

The people who manage entitlement programs should be made accountable for abuse of these programs. Was there no one to audit the financial wizardry for several years? What can we do? Probably nothing.

trimmy
29
Points
trimmy 06/18/11 - 01:17 pm
0
0
BTW, was this guy kin to any
Unpublished

BTW, was this guy kin to any other Walker felon we may have heard of?

ConcernedFather
0
Points
ConcernedFather 06/19/11 - 05:34 pm
0
0
THE CHURCH MENTIONED IN THIS

THE CHURCH MENTIONED IN THIS ARTICLE IS THANKFUL OF BLYTHE, GA. I DONT KNOW WHY THE CHRONICLE DIDN'T INCLUDE ITS LOCATION!

ConcernedFather
0
Points
ConcernedFather 06/19/11 - 05:36 pm
0
0
THANKFUL OF BLYTHE, CHURCH

THANKFUL OF BLYTHE, CHURCH NOT IN AUGUSTA!!!

Jason Wermers
3
Points
Jason Wermers 06/20/11 - 03:40 pm
0
0
ConcernedFather, we checked

ConcernedFather, we checked with the federal district attorney's office today and learned the church in question is in Waynesboro. We have updated the story to reflect this new information, which was not provided in the court documents that were related to the plea agreement.

deb1953
36
Points
deb1953 06/23/11 - 06:30 pm
0
0
He should be in jail for a

He should be in jail for a long time and should be made to work until he pays every penny back!!! They need to bring back the chain-gang--it might deter some criminals!!!

deb1953
36
Points
deb1953 06/23/11 - 06:31 pm
0
0
By the way is he related to

By the way is he related to Charles Walker???

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