VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) – A former bookkeeper for a Valdosta-based physical therapy business entered guilty pleas for two counts of bank fraud in Federal Court.
32-year-old Heather Nicole Gray, of Norman Park, Georgia, pleaded guilty to the two counts on Tuesday.
The charges each carry a maximum penalty of 30 years in prison, a $250,000 dollar fine, or both.
Gray began doing financial work for Sutherland Physical Therapy, Inc. (SPT) in September 2014 while she was an employee of Quick Consulting of Adel. As bookkeeper, She had access to the financial information of Sutherland Yoga Studio (SYT).
Gray was hired directly by SPT in September 2017.
It was discovered that she began making unauthorized automated clearinghouse payments from two SPT bank accounts in 2014 to pay off her and her ex-husband's credit card debts.
The investigation shows that her scheme intensified in 2017 when she began creating fraudulent checks without authorization, using SPT bank accounts, payable to herself or her ex-husband.
Gray made a total of 317 fraudulent payments until her scheme was discovered in April 2018.
In all, the scheme to cover her tracks, she used several methods, including removing pages of the monthly bank account statement that showed unauthorized activity and changing the “payee” field in the QuickBooks system from her name to a named legitimate expense.
In all, the fraud scheme totaled $321,854, including $4,971.62 lost by SYS and $316,882.38 lost by SPT.
The case was investigated by the United States Secret Service and the Lowndes County Sheriff's Office.
A sentencing date has not been scheduled as of now.