Norton pleads guilty to 9 federal charges

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

BIRMINGHAM – A 46-year-old Alabaster woman is facing time in prison, and likely will pay a total of more than $320,000 in restitution after she pleaded guilty to nine federal felony charges related to large-scale embezzlement from her Alabaster employer.

Norton

Norton

A federal grand jury returned the indictments against Alabaster resident Rebecca Ann Norton in July, charging her with 30 counts of bank fraud, 12 counts of aggravated identity theft, three counts of filing false tax returns and one count each of misusing a Social Security number and witness tampering.

On Sept. 29, Norton pleaded guilty to three counts of bank fraud, three counts of aggravated identity theft, one count of tampering with a witness, one count of misusing a Social Security number and one count of filing a false tax return.

The remainder of her charges likely will be dropped as a result of her plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Norton worked as an office manager for an Alabaster company from August 2013 to August 2015, where she allegedly “used a variety of methods to fraudulently take the $328,000 from bank accounts held by” the company.

“Norton committed aggravated identity theft by using personal identification information of several other individuals to facilitate her fraud, according to the indictment. It also charges that once Norton knew she was under federal and state investigation, she tried to contact two of her victims to convince them not to pursue criminal charges against her,” read a Department of Justice statement. “The superseding indictment also charges that, between 2011 and 2012, Norton drew unemployment benefits from the State of Alabama under another person’s Social Security number, thereby misusing that Social Security number and committing aggravated identity theft against that person.

“Finally, the superseding indictment charges that Norton filed false federal income tax returns for 2010, 2013 and 2014 by underreporting her taxable income during each relevant year,” the statement read.

As a result of her guilty plea, Norton is facing time in a federal prison, and must repay $329,662.91, “Which represents proceeds of the (bank fraud) offenses,” read her plea agreement in U.S. District Court.

Norton faces up to 30 years in prison for each bank fraud count, up to 20 years for the witness tampering count, up to five years for the misuse of a Social Security number charge and up to three years for each count of filing a false tax return. She faces a mandatory two years in prison for each aggravated identity theft conviction.

In Norton’s plea agreement, prosecutors recommended she receive sentences “consistent with the low end of the advisory United States Sentencing Guideline range” because she accepted responsibility for the crimes.

As of Oct. 3, Norton had not yet been sentenced in U.S. District Court.

Norton originally was charged with second-degree possession of a forged instrument and one felony count of first-degree theft of property in Shelby County, but those charges were dropped after the federal charges were brought against her.