Opp woman sentenced to federal prison for stealing funds from church
An Opp woman will spend 18 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to eight counts of wire fraud.
In addition to the time sentenced, 59-year-old Carmen Ramer Davis was also ordered to serve one year of supervised release following her prison term.
According to court records and statements made in open court, sometime in 2006, Davis was appointed to serve as secretary at Brooklyn Congregational Methodist Church in Coffee County.
In this position, Davis had the authority to pay bills and expenses incurred by the church. Davis also had access to the church’s bank accounts.
Authorities say Davis eventually obtained a debit card associated with the bank accounts without the church’s knowledge. Davis began using the card to make fraudulent cash withdrawals at ATMs and to purchase personal items at various retailers.
Officials say she also wrote checks from the church’s bank account to herself or made them out to cash. Evidence gathered during the investigation indicated that Davis used some of the money for trips to casinos in Alabama and Mississippi.
The illegal activity was discovered in August 2019 when a church leader received a letter from the bank indicating there were insufficient funds to cover a $75 check written against the church’s account.
Officials say soon after church leaders discovered the fraud, the Brooklyn Congregational Methodist Church closed due to financial hardship and has not reopened.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, the federal judge determined that Davis defrauded the church of $89,440.32. The judge ordered Davis to pay restitution to the church in that amount.
“The crimes committed by Ms. Davis victimized an entire faith community,” said United States Attorney Sandra J. Stewart. “The harm will continue to be felt for quite some time. I am hopeful that the sentence imposed will deter others from engaging in such deceitful conduct.”
The FBI and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case.