Ex-teller indicted on fraud

Published 2:04 am Wednesday, July 30, 2008

By By Lisa Tindell – news editor
A federal indictment charges a former Bank of Brewton employee with violations in the banking industry, alleging she fabricated names for accounts and used schemes to attempt to bilk the bank out of thousands of dollars.
Mescilla Lawson, a former officer and teller at the bank, was charged with nine counts of crimes that took place from 1999 to 2003 at the local bank, which is Alabama's oldest bank. Charges included making false entries in bank records, bank fraud, receipt of mail in a false and fictitious name and theft of money by a bank employee.
Charges included three counts of false entry into bank reports and statements. According to the indictment, evidence shows Lawson recorded transfers involving $706,000 between the Bank of Brewton and SouthTrust Bank, when in truth and in fact, as the defendant well knew, no such transfers were made.
Lawson was also charged with four counts of bank fraud. The indictment states that Lawson used a scheme whereby she maintained and used Visa and MasterCard credit card accounts under false and fictitious names.
Also as part of the scheme, Lawson would obtain cash advances from the Bank of Brewton and record payments on the credit card account, causing loss to the bank, the indictment states.
Lawson was charged with one count of receipt of mail in false and fictitious name for the purpose of conducting, promoting and carrying on bank fraud by means of the postal service, used and requested to be addressed by the false and fictitious name of Becky Black and took and received credit card statements addressed in that name at a Brewton post office box address, the indictment states.
The final charge was one count of theft by a bank employee which, the indictment stated, showed Lawson had an intent to injure and defraud the bank by knowingly and willfully misapplying, embezzling, abstracting and purloining $1,708 of money which was property of the bank.
More specifically, the indictment states, Lawson unlawfully obtained a cash advance from the Bank of Brewton on a MasterCard credit card account in a false and fictitious name.
Agents for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation and presented the case for prosecution to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Daryl Atchison, an assistant U.S. attorney, is handling the prosecution of the case on behalf of the United States.
On the charges of making false entries in bank records, Lawson faces a maximum penalty of 30 years in custody and a $1 million fine.
The charges of bank fraud and theft of money by a bank employee carry the same fines and possible prison sentences. On the charge of receiving mail in a false and fictitious name, the penalty is a maximum of five years in custody and a $250,000 fine.
Bank of Brewton officials could not comment on the case. Officials with the U.S. attorney's office were unavailable for comment at press time.
Court records list no attorney for Lawson.