BIRMINGHAM, AL (WAFF) - Federal prosecutors charged a Cullman mother and son in connection with a scheme to defraud federal government health agencies and a non-profit Alabama health center of more than $100,000 for personal use.
Prosecutors said that money was spent on electronic fish finders, truck tires, cell phones, and a membership with an adult website.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama charged Sheila Osborne Parker and James Robert Parker.
Sheila Parker faces six counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of failing to file federal income tax returns. Her son, James, faces five counts of wire fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of failing to file returns.
Both have entered plea agreements with the government.
Sheila Parker worked for Birmingham Health Care, a non-profit organization intended to provide free or low-cost health care services to the homeless and to people living below poverty level in the metro area. In 2008, BHC assumed responsibility for the fiscal affairs of Central Alabama Comprehensive Health Inc. in Tuskegee, and Sheila Parker began to perform bookkeeping and fiscal duties for that center. CACH was a non-profit organization intended to provide primary and preventative health care to people in east Alabama, regardless of their ability to pay.
According to the plea agreement, Sheila enlisted her son's help with her duties and allowed him access to the center's bank accounts. She permitted, and sometimes instructed him to use CACH funds for personal purchases. The total amount attributed to their fraud is $116,416.
Records show purchases from electronics stores, boat dealers, a $3,500 PayPal transaction to James' then-girlfriend, and a $14.95, one-month subscription to an adult website.
They also acknowledged failure to file tax returns between 2004 and 2012.
"Today, these defendants acknowledge that they took money from a federally funded community health center intended to serve the poor and uninsured so the defendants could enjoy a more lavish lifestyle and indulge an expensive hobby," U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance said. "That conduct is as unacceptable as it is criminal, and we are committed to addressing any criminal conduct that may have occurred as we move forward with the investigation," she said.
The FBI, IRS Criminal Investigation Division, and the HHS OIG investigated the case.