Federal complaint accuses another in Big Brothers Big Sisters fraud

jwarren@herald-leader.comNovember 11, 2013 

Photo by Thinkstockphoto.com

The FBI has filed a criminal complaint against another person in a 2009 scheme to embezzle more than $432,000 from Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass.

Filed in U.S. District Court Friday, the complaint alleges that Danny Fondren committed bank fraud by cashing more than $136,000 in Big Brothers Big Sisters checks that had been forged.

Bendrea Wilson, a former office manager with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass, has been sentenced in the same case. The scheme by Wilson, Fondren and others operated from sometime in 2008 until October 2009, authorities have said.

The new complaint, signed by FBI Special Agent Joseph Moutz, alleges that Fondren cooperated with Wilson and others to have the fraudulent checks drawn on the Big Brothers bank account. Fondren then cashed the checks, the complaint says.

Moutz stated in a supporting affidavit that Wilson confessed in 2009 to having the fraudulent checks issued and forging the names of Big Brothers Big Sisters board members on the checks. Wilson also named Fondren as participating in the plan by cashing the fraudulent checks, Moutz said in the affidavit.

The affidavit said Wilson paid Fondren and others $50 to $250 for each check they cashed, keeping the rest for herself.

Moutz said Fondren later acknowledged during an FBI investigation that he cashed "numerous" Big Brothers Big Sisters checks given to him by Wilson. The checks totaled about $136,000, according to the affidavit.

Moutz said Fondren also admitted that Wilson paid him about $2,000 for cashing the checks.

Wilson was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of federal bank fraud in the embezzlement case in 2011.

Another defendant, Marcus Searcy of Danville, also pleaded guilty in 2011. Searcy had been on a federal supervised release program, but a federal judge recently revoked his release. He has appealed to the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

The embezzlement case came to light in November 2009 when Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Bluegrass filed a civil lawsuit alleging that Wilson had forged board members signatures on at least 140 checks.

The suit charged that the checks were made out to five people: Searcy and four men from Lexington: Demetrius Davis, Charles Mealing, Emmanual Marshall and Fondren.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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