Former employee of Williamsburg business indicted on embezzlement charges

Jimmy LaRoue
Contact Reporterjlarouejr@vagazette.com

A former employee of Cullom Eye and Laser Center in Williamsburg was indicted by a federal grand jury Wednesday on fraud charges for allegedly embezzling over $500,000 from her employer, according to a Department of Justice, Eastern District of Virginia news release.

Sherea Darnell, 33, of Southfield, Michigan, faces four charges, including wire fraud, bank fraud, use of an unauthorized access device and filing false tax returns, the news release states. Darnell was an administrator at Cullom Eye and Laser Center from March 2012 through September 2016, according to the release.

According to the allegations in the indictment, Darnell was responsible for the administrative duties in the office, with the business providing her with two business credit cards to be used for business purposes such as supplies and office equipment. The credit cards were paid automatically each month by Cullom’s business bank accounts, the release states.

The business began reviewing its bank accounts after Darnell resigned and moved to Michigan in 2016 and determined numerous personal charges, including paying for her son’s private school tuition, home maid services, entertainment, dining, clothing, jewelry and airline travel for her and family, the release states. Darnell also allegedly made more than $90,000 in cash advances on the company credit cards, according to the release.

If convicted, Darnell faces a maximum penalty of 30 years on each count of bank fraud, 20 years on each count of wire fraud, and 3 years on each count of filing false tax returns, with actual sentences for federal crimes typically less than the maximum penalties, the release states.

Managing Assistant U.S. Attorney Howard J. Zlotnick is prosecuting the case.

LaRoue can be reached by phone at 757-345-2342, by email at jlarouejr@vagazette.com or on Twitter @jlaroue.

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