SHREVEPORT, La. - Carol Bates, the former comptroller for Bossier Parish Community College, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison for wire fraud.
Bates, 50, pleaded guilty July 20 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
U.S. District Judge Maurice Hicks Jr. also ordered Bates to serve three years of supervised release and pay restitution of $286,987.
Bates and her co-defendants, Faith Alexander, Marquise Perry, and Audrey Williams, all of Shreveport, were indicted in 2019 and charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud.
Bates admitted at a plea hearing that from 2013 to 2016 she used her position as comptroller of BPCC to access an internal BPCC computer database and make entries falsely showing individuals were due refunds by the school. The people were not qualified to receive the funds, and, in most cases, they were not even attending BPCC during the semesters they received the money.
As a part of the scheme, Bates and her sister, Audrey Williams, recruited Alexander and Perry, along with seven other individuals to receive fraudulent refunds from BPCC. Once they got the money, between one-half and two-thirds was given to Carol Bates or her sister.
In total, Bates caused 45 fraudulent refunds totaling $286,987.08 to be issued to nine individuals. Alexander received eight refunds totaling $45,482.65 from 2014 through 2016. Perry received seven refunds totaling $49,524.65 from 2015 through 2016. The remaining 30 refunds were issued to seven other individuals who, after receiving the money, transferred two-thirds or half of it to Bates.
Acting United States Attorney Alexander C. Van Hook stated: “Those who work in places of trust in business such as the comptroller position held by this defendant, are held to a higher standard of accountability. This defendant failed in that regard and instead selfishly stole hundreds of thousands of dollars for her own personal gain. Our office will be vigilant in continuing to investigate this, and any other type of fraud, in the Western District of Louisiana.”
“Abuse of high trust is among the worst things a public employee can do,” said state Inspector General Stephen Street. “Ms. Bates engaged in a deliberate and complex scheme to steal hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars from an institution of higher learning, with no regard for the significant harm it would cause. The substantial prison sentence imposed by the court today is entirely proper, and will hopefully send the message to anyone else who might consider stealing from the public – we have zero tolerance for it and will do everything we can to send you to jail.”
Perry, 36, pleaded guilty on December 2019 and was sentenced on Dec. 11 to 5 years of supervised probation. Perry was also ordered to pay $49,524.65 in restitution.
The sentencing hearing for Alexander is scheduled for March 22.
The sentencing hearing for Williams has not yet been set.
The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General, and the Louisiana Office of State Inspector General, conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth D. Reeg prosecuted the case.