Autuaga Co. man sentenced in $6.2 million theft scheme - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

Autuaga Co. man sentenced in $6.2 million theft scheme

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MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

Ricky Nelson Dawson, age 54, of Autauga County, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Myron H. Thompson to a prison term of 60 months based on his conviction for wire fraud arising out of his theft of approximately $6.2 million in checks payable to the federal government, U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr., announced today.

According to court records, Dawson, a United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") employee, had served since 2000 as director of the Bay Minette and Camden offices of USDA's Rural Development programs.  One of those programs was the Rural Utilities Service, which provided loans and grants to local water authorities and electric utilities (the "Authorities").

Between March 2007 and May 2012, Dawson received checks—all payable to "Rural Development" or a variation thereof—from various Authorities representing funds intended as payment to USDA.  Dawson embezzled the checks by depositing them into an account in the name "Ryal Development Farm" that he had opened at First Community Bank, in Chatom.  On some of the checks, Dawson hand wrote the letter "y" over the "ur" in "Rural" to make it appear as if "Ryal" Development was the payee of the checks. 

The following chart summarizes Dawson's activities:

  • Date Deposited - Amount ($) - Payor
  • March 22, 2007 - 149,838.29 - East Central Baldwin County
  • January 10, 2008 - 28,000 - Hobson Water System
  • April 4, 2008 - 106,246.29 - Mexia Water System
  • November 3, 2008 - 24,841.77 - Mexia Water System
  • December 8, 2008 - 21,464.60 - Town of Autaugaville
  • February 18, 2009 - 75,000 - St. Stephens Water System
  • August 21, 2009 - 400,000 - Southern Pine Electric Cooperative
  • January 4, 2010 - 5,000 - Freemanville Water System
  • January 22, 2010 - 35,000 - Freemanville Water System
  • April 21, 2010 - 90,000 - Freemanville Water System
  • September 28, 2010 - 70,000 - Freemanville Water System
  • November 22, 2010 - 500,000 - Perry County Water Authority
  • March 1, 2011 - 190,534 - East Central Baldwin County
  • April 14, 2011 - 995,000 - Perry County Water Authority
  • July 1, 2011 - 779,263.73 - Autauga County Water Authority
  • December 9, 2011 - 799,172.79 - West Dallas Water Authority
  • April 18, 2012 - 999,000 - City of Thomasville Water Works and Sewer Board
  • May 4, 2012 - 957,559.29 - City of Thomasville Water Works and Sewer Board
  • TOTAL $6,225,920.76

After depositing the checks, Dawson transferred the funds into his accounts at Regions Bank and E*TRADE Securities.  He also used the funds from later thefts to make payments (a) to Authorities that were the payors of checks Dawson had previously converted, and (b) to USDA.  The net amount taken by Dawson after the "repayments" came to approximately $3.8 million.  A hearing to determine restitution will be scheduled within 90 days.

Dawson has been free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.  He was ordered to report to prison on May 31, 2013.

Source: United States Department of Justice, Middle District of Alabama

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