Opp woman sentenced to federal prison for stealing funds from church
Published 7:30 am Tuesday, April 11, 2023
United States Attorney Sandra J. Stewart announced that Carmen Ramer Davis, 59, from Opp received a sentence of 18 months in prison after pleading guilty to eight counts of wire fraud on Thursday, April 6.
The federal judge also ordered Davis to serve one year of supervised release following her prison term.
According to court records and statements made in open court, sometime in 2006, the Brooklyn Congregational Methodist Church in Coffee County appointed Davis to serve as its secretary. The position gave Davis authority to pay bills and expenses incurred by the church and had access to the church’s bank accounts. Davis eventually obtained a debit card associated with the church’s bank account 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. She also fraudulently wrote checks from the church’s bank account to herself or made them out to cash. Davis did not make these withdrawals and purchases with the knowledge or consent of the church, nor were they for the church’s benefit. Evidence gathered during the investigation indicated that Davis used some of the illicit proceeds for trips to casinos in Mississippi and Alabama. The fraudulent activity was not discovered until August 2019 when a church leader received a letter from the church’s bank indicating there were insufficient funds to cover a $75.00 check written against the church’s account.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge determined that, over the course of the scheme (a period stretching from July of 2008 until July of 2019), Davis defrauded the church of $89,440.32. The judge ordered Davis to pay restitution to the church in that amount. Soon after church leaders discovered Davis’s fraud, the Brooklyn Congregational Methodist Church closed due to financial hardship and has not reopened.
“The crimes committed by Ms. Davis victimized an entire faith community,” said United States Attorney Stewart. “The harm will continue to be felt for quite some time. I am hopeful the sentence imposed will deter others from engaging in such deceitful conduct.”
“The actions of the defendant significantly damaged not only the church but also the community at large,” stated FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Brown. “I am proud of the work by the FBI and US Attorney’s office to hold Davis accountable for her actions and work toward repairing the public’s trust.”
The FBI and the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office investigated this case. Assistant United States Attorney Joel Feil prosecuted the case.