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Former MARTA employee sentenced in half a million dollar fraud scheme

Posted at 12:55 PM, Feb 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-26 14:55:08-05

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    Atlanta, GA (WGCL) — A former MARTA administrator of nearly two decades has been sentenced in a fraud scheme that lined her pockets with more than $520,000.

Johnnita L. Williams, 48, and two others used a false-invoice scheme to pay for maintenance projects where no work was done.

Williams worked for the transportation company from 1999 to 2017; from 2010 to 2017 she worked for MARTA senior director of operations Joseph J. Erves, who is also listed in the investigation.

“Williams sold the public’s trust for self-enrichment when she chose to participated in a half of million dollar theft of MARTA funds,” said U.S. Attorney Byung Pak.

According to the investigation, 40 fake invoices were used to pay three vendors — including a business owned by Ferrell Williams who was romantically involved with Johnnita — between June 2010 and December 2016.

Investigators say Johnnita used the funds to finance a 3,000 square foot home as well as other personal expenses. She was sentenced to one year and four months in prison. She will also have three years of probation and is ordered to pay $522,825.45 in restitution.

“This sentencing will send a clear message to any MARTA employee who thinks they are above the law and would act to erode the trust the public has given us,” said MARTA Police Chief Wanda Y. Dunham.

Others charged include:

Joseph J. Erves, 54, pleaded guilty to federal program theft. He was sentenced to serve two years and nine months in federal prison, as well as pay $522,852.45 in restitution.

Ferrell Williams, 63, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit federal program theft. Williams was sentenced to eight month in federal prison and ordered to pay $41,539.10 in restitution.

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