An Illinois Congressman’s former Director of Operations Thursday pleaded guilty to stealing public funds after falsifying documents for more pay.
Sterling Carter, 24, who worked for Representative Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) received $79,491.67 in unauthorized salary and bonus payments between November 2019 and January 2021. He faces up to ten years imprisonment when sentenced, which is scheduled for July 28, according to a Justice Department statement.
Federal prosecutors said Carter submitted fraudulent paperwork to authorize a higher salary and bonus payments. The former congressional staffer hid the theft from his boss and the Congressman’s Chief of Staff by lying and filing a faked budget spreadsheet that showed he made much more money than he did. The FBI criminal complaint explained Carter later edited the spreadsheet to reflect his actual salary so he would only receive a one-time bonus instead of a recurring increase.
Part of Carter’s job included determining employee salaries and whether they should receive a bonus, and — if so — the dollar amount of their bonus, according to the complaint.
For salary increases, Carter had to complete and submit a payroll authorization form (PAF) to reflect an employee’s new salary and when it became effective.
Getting a bonus involved two PAFs: the first showed a temporary salary increase in proportion to their bonus amount; the second restored the employee’s salary back to its original level. The second PAF made sure the bonus was a one-time payment instead of a regular monthly salary increase.
The Office of Payroll and Benefits would issue payments to the designated employee based on the amount shown on the PAF submitted by Carter.
FBI agent Frank D’Amico informed U.S. Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui that Carter was not permitted to sign Rep. Schneider’s name without the congressman’s authorization. Yet, he completed, signed and submitted unauthorized PAFs to the OPB for approximately $80,000 more than he was entitled to.
“The office terminated Sterling Carter on 1/13/21,” a Schneider spokesman said, according to a report in “The Epoch Times”.
“The office then began working closely with the Department of Justice to uncover and seek justice for funds lost through fraud and abuse of Carter’s position as director of operations.”
“Mr. Carter regrets getting himself involved in the circumstances which led to his guilty plea,” Carter’s attorney, Robert Lee Jenkins Jr., told “Law&Crime”.
Jenkins added Carter accepts responsibility for his conduct but does not think it is reflective of the person he is.
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