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A Georgia woman, who was a teacher and worked as a public servant in Columbus, pleaded guilty to stealing over $240k from two non-profits and a small business on Monday.
Trenna Denise Trice, 59, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison.
Trice was a public servant responsible for organizing a mayor’s ball, a fundraising activity for the Columbus branch of the non-profit United Negro College Fund (UNCF). According the DOJ, Trice’s duties included “collecting cash, credit card contributions, and check payments for donations and ticket sales.”
“Trenna Trice abused the trust of two non-profits, a small business and many individual citizens when she choose to steal money intended for others to fund her gambling addiction,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “I commend the FDIC-OIG investigators who unraveled her web of lies through their extensive investigation. Our office, along with our law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to bring fraudsters to justice.”
The DOJ found that “[during] the course of the investigation, agents determined that while the larger contribution checks from bigger sponsorship companies had made their way to UNCF, Trice diverted numerous smaller contributions for her own personal use.” UNCF ended their relationship with Trice in 2017 after questioning financial irregularities.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of the Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) started the investigation into Trice in May 2019. Investigators found that Trice’s income came from teaching for the Muscogee County School District. Before teaching, Trice had been fired from a dental office for allegations of embezzlement. At one point, she had also been collecting donations for a non-profit organization SaMarc, run by two NBA basketball players, that helped underprivileged children.
Agents found 109 checks and 265 credit card transactions that had been deposited into Trice’s accounts without authorization. She allegedly tried to hide her fraud by using outside ATMs and changing the settings in her Square app to “disguise that she was the actual recipient of a donation intended for others.” According to the IG press release, “Trice told investigators she had a crippling gambling addiction for the last decade and the money was stolen to fuel her gambling addiction and compensate for her gambling losses.”
Trice is now known to have stolen $162,044 from non-profit UNCF, $70,231 from a dental office, $7,784 from non-profit SaMarc, and $200 from the Georgia Dental Society, totaling $240,259.
She will be sentenced on March 29, 2022.
“The criminal conduct in this case is even more egregious because Ms. Trice is a public servant, occupied a position of trust in charitable organizations, and stole from those organizations – all while pocketing the funds for her personal use,” said FDIC-OIG Special Agent in Charge Kyle A. Myles. “The FDIC Office of Inspector General is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate matters of fraud which impact both the banking system and the community as a whole.”