(Atlanta) The Fulton County Grand Jury has returned an indictment for Racketeering (RICO) against two former executives of the Georgia Tech-based non-profit Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Engineering (SECME). Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker’s office made the presentment before the grand jury against Yvonne Freeman, the former Program Director of SECME, and Brandon Davis, a former SECME executive hired by Freeman, on November 30, 2010. The Attorney General’s office received notice today that the indictments were subsequently true-billed by the grand jury.
The indictment alleges that from January 2001 through September 2005, Freeman and Davis utilized a system of loose internal accounting, which they had helped to create, to steal SECME funds through use of SECME credit cards for personal benefit as well as use of cash withdrawals, checks and wire transfers drawn from SECME accounts for their own benefit or the benefit of third parties. The indictment alleges that through the racketeering activities of theft by taking and wire fraud, Freeman and Davis endeavored to acquire $758,494.56 in property either for their own personal benefit or the benefit of third parties.
The indictment returned by the grand jury also charged Sandi Sheffey, who was not a salaried employee of SECME, with six counts of felony Theft by Taking for obtaining monies that belonged to SECME between April 2003 and September 2005.
Conviction of Racketeering (OCGA §16-14-4(c)) carries a five to twenty year prison sentence as well as a fine of up to three times the pecuniary gain realized by those engaged in the racketeering activity. Conviction of felony Theft by Taking (OCGA §16-8-2) carries a one to ten year prison sentence.
Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual(s) against whom the indictment is sought. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the government’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.