Man guilty of stealing $800k from West Dallas Water Authority

Published 8:31pm Tuesday, March 12, 2013

MONTGOMERY — U.S. Attorney George L. Beck of the Middle District of Alabama released information Tuesday that an Autauga County man wrote fraudulent checks payable to the federal government totaling in $6.2 million.

Ricky Nelson Dawson, a 54-year-old United States Department of Agriculture employee, stole from approximately 18 government agencies since 2007 and one of those entities was the West Dallas County Water Authority. In addition, he stole from water authorities in Perry County, Freemanville, Baldwin County, Thomasville, and Autauga County to list a few.

On Dec. 9, 2011, Dawson received $799,172.79 from the West Dallas County Water Authority using fraudulent methods. Dawson was sentenced to a 6-month prison sentence, “based on his conviction for wire fraud arising out of his theft of approximately $6.2 million in checks payable to the federal government,” Beck said Tuesday.

According to court records, Dawson served as a USDA employee since 2000 as director of the Bay Minette and Camden offices of USDA’s Rural Development programs. One such program was the Rural Utilities Service, which provided loans and grants to local water authorities and electric utilities.

“Between March 2007 and May 2012, Dawson received checks payable to ‘Rural Development’ or a variation of thereof — from various Authorities representing funds intended as payment to USDA,” the release said. “Dawson embezzled the checks by depositing them into an account in the name ‘Ryal Development Farm’ that he had opened at First Community Bank, in Chatom.  On some of the checks, Dawson hand wrote the letter ‘y’ over the ‘ur’ in ‘Rural’ to make it appear as if ‘Ryal’ Development was the payee of the checks.”

After depositing the checks, Dawson transferred the funds into his personal accounts at Regions Bank as well as E*TRADE securities.

“He also used the funds from later thefts to make payments to Authorities that were the payers of the checks Dawson had previously converted and to the USDA,” the release said. “The net amount taken by Dawson after his ‘repayments’ came to approximately $3.8 million”

A hearing will soon be scheduled to determine restitution within the next three months. The case was investigated by the FBI and by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General.

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