Crime

Ex-Synovus banker pleads guilty to diverting more than $1 million in personal account

A crime both small and big businesses are victims of: embezzlement

Ever wonder what embezzlement is? This white collar crime is hurting businesses all over.
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Ever wonder what embezzlement is? This white collar crime is hurting businesses all over.

A former Synovus commercial banker accused of diverting more than $1 million in client funds into a personal account pleaded guilty Wednesday to bank fraud and tax evasion charges in U.S. District Court, said Charles E. Peeler, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia.

John. D. Evans, 47, of Columbus entered the plea in District Court before Judge Clay D. Land on four counts of bank fraud and four counts of tax evasion. No sentencing date was set at the hearing.

The plea was the result of determination and hard work of federal investigators and prosecutors who aggressively pursued allegations of bank fraud, said Chris Hacker, special agent in charge FBI Atlanta office. “The FBI is determined to pursue any allegations of persons who would choose to take advantage of their trusted positions of employment,” he said.

As a commercial banker, Evans managed some of the largest clients for Synovus between July 2, 2013, and May 24, 2017, when fraud occurred in accounts. A total of $1,046,602 was diverted in client funds into a personal account Evans opened at another bank. Records show that money was used to pay for many personal expenses, including payments on vehicles, credit card bills, vacations, jewelry and cash withdrawals.

Evans is accused of failing to pay income taxes on the stolen money amounting to $221,357.

Fraud violates the public trust and impacts the financial system and the business community as a whole, Peeler said. “I want to thank the combined investigative work of the FBI, IRS and the Office of Inspector General,” he said. “I also want to thank Synovus for their total cooperation in this investigation and helping bring this fraud to light.”

No customer experienced a loss as a result of Evans’ actions, said Lee Underwood, communications director for Synovus.

People find ways to embezzle from their employers, even with substantial controls and banking regulations in place, said Thomas J. Holloman, special agent in charge IRS Criminal Investigation. “If you commit fraud, you will get caught and face the consequences,” he said.

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