Selma woman charged with wire fraud in Georgia

Published 9:11 pm Friday, September 29, 2017

A Selma woman that filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo in August has been arrested on federal charges, her attorney confirmed.

Dorita Lynn Clay was arrested Wednesday night by an agent with the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency and booked into the Dallas County Jail with a hold for the United States Marshals.

Clay’s attorney, Julian McPhillips, who is representing her in the lawsuit against Wells Fargo, said Clay was arrested for wire fraud.

“I think it’s a weak charge that’s probably inspired by the bank with all of its influence and money, but it’s not in Selma, and it’s not even in Montgomery. It’s in Columbus, Georgia,” McPhillips said Thursday. “I think it’s bogus. I think it’s kind of a retaliatory move inspired by Wells Fargo.”

The lawsuit Clay filed against Wells Fargo alleged a branch manager wrongfully provided account information to an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who was investigating Clay’s friend for allegedly embezzling money.

Clay said she lent her friend a substantial amount of money.

McPhillips said Clay had an arraignment hearing Friday in federal court in Montgomery. He said he is still representing her in the lawsuit, but a law firm in Columbus, Georgia, would represent her on the federal charges.

According to U.S. Code, there are four elements of wire fraud: (1) that the defendant voluntarily and intentionally devised or participated in a scheme to defraud another out of money; (2) that the defendant did so with the intent to defraud; (3) that it was reasonably foreseeable that interstate wire communications would be used; and (4) that interstate wire communications were in fact used.

“If they had anything really valid, I think they would charge her with theft. That’s sort of the rumor floating around, but there is no truth to it,” McPhillips said. “I think it’s a weak charge, and I’m glad she’ll have a good one or two attorneys in Columbus representing her in it.”

Clay has a criminal history that includes theft by deception, theft of property, forgery and identity theft.

Eric Day, a public information officer with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of Alabama, said Friday he could not confirm nor deny whether there is an active investigation involving Clay.

The clerk’s office in the United States District Court of the Middle District of Georgia could not comment on the case Friday either.

McPhillips said the lawsuit has been removed to federal court, but he has made a motion to move it back to state court.

“Right now, the lawsuit has been what I call hijacked or else removed to the federal court by the opposing side,” McPhillips said. “We have filed a motion to remand it. That means to have it sent back to state court.”