Former North Carolina credit union branch manager sentenced to four years in prison for embezzlement

Published 7:44 am Monday, December 20, 2021

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A Wake Forest man was sentenced Thursday, December 16, 2021 to 48 months in prison and five years of supervised release for embezzlement from a credit union, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Johnnie Earl Harrell, 49, pleaded guilty to the charges June 24, 2020.

According to court documents and other information presented in court, between 2008 and 2019, Harrell served as branch manager of a credit union located in Zebulon, North Carolina.

“During this period, Harrell exploited his position as branch manager to steal and embezzle at least $631,838.36 in funds belonging to the credit union and its customers,” stated the release. “Among Harrell’s victims were retirees who Harrell convinced to rollover existing retirement accounts into annuities. Harrell never purchased the annuities, but instead converted the victims’ funds to personal use.

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“Harrell prepared fraudulent annuity account statements which were periodically presented to victims to preclude detection of the scheme,” the release. continued.

Harrell will be ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

G. Norman Acker III, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. Homeland Security Investigations, the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations and the Zebulon Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan prosecuted.