Bookkeeper pleads guilty to embezzling $175,000
BIRMINGHAM – A former bookkeeper at a Pelham-based accounting firm recently pleaded guilty to charges that she embezzled money from a local hotel, and on Thursday, April 25, a grand jury returned an indictment against the bookkeeper’s alleged co-conspirator on related charges, announced U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and United States Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams.
In a one-count information filed in U.S. District Court, the United States Attorney charged Delaine Dawson Summerville, 50, with wire fraud for her role in an embezzlement scheme targeting one of her accounting firm’s clients, the Best Western Oak Mountain Inn, located in Pelham.
A plea agreement was also filed. According to the plea agreement, Summerville had been employed as a bookkeeper at Bryan L. Parker, CPA. During 2016 and 2017, the Best Western Oak Mountain Inn was among Parker CPA’s clients.
Summerville provided bookkeeping, accounting and payroll services to the hotel, and in that role, she had the ability to create checks drawn on the hotel’s bank account. During the latter half of 2016 and early 2017, Summerville created dozens of checks payable to herself from the hotel’s bank account, which she cashed or deposited.
Summerville also created dozens of checks payable to another individual, Dana Mischelle Braxton. In all, the embezzlement totaled more than $175,000, according to Summerville’s plea agreement.
Braxton, 51, of Leeds, was charged in a six-count indictment filed in U.S. District Court with wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for her role in the embezzlement scheme. According to the indictment, between June 2016 and February 2017, Braxton received checks from Summerville drawn on Best Western Oak Mountain Inn’s bank account.
During this time, Braxton either cashed the checks or deposited them into a bank account that she controlled. Braxton was not an employed by Parker CPA or by the Best Western Oak Mountain Inn, and cashed or deposited the checks without knowledge or authorization of either entity.
“This case is about a hard-working hotel owner who had hundreds of thousands of dollars stolen from him by someone he trusted,” Town said. “Our office will continue to work tirelessly to bring the perpetrators of such frauds to justice.”
The maximum penalty for wire fraud is 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
The penalty for aggravated identity theft is two years in prison. The Secret Service investigated the cases, which Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Ward is prosecuting. An indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.