A former Jefferson Community Health Care Centers official has been sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to stealing more than $200,000 from the nonprofit.
Ebony Williams White was indicted in January on seven counts of wire fraud and one count of obstructing justice in connection with charges that she used electronic transfers to funnel the organization’s money into her own bank account. She pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud over the summer and was sentenced last week by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown.
White worked at Jefferson Community Health Care Centers between February 2008 and March 2010 and allegedly made fraudulent transfers 48 times. That theft was highlighted in an August 2012 report from the state Legislative Auditor’s Office that found significant problems with the nonprofit, including financial issues, embezzlement and the use of public funds for parties.
White so far is the only person charged in connection with problems at the centers, which had close ties to former Jefferson Parish Councilman Byron Lee and former state Rep. Girod Jackson. Jackson pleaded guilty to federal charges of tax fraud last year.
In both the audit and the federal investigation, White told investigators that many of the transfers had been authorized. She told auditors about $84,000 of the money transferred to her account had been at the request of then-Chief Executive Officer Carol Smith as payments for helping to start a for-profit venture.
Smith denied those claims, according to the audit, which also said Smith had raised questions about some of the money transfers and had been told they were being used to pay for insurance benefits.
White also was ordered to pay about $207,000 in restitution to Jefferson Community Health Care Centers and another $20,000 to Church Mutual Insurance Co.
Jefferson Community Health Care Centers, now under new leadership, received a relatively clean audit earlier this year.
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