Former Pineville city manager pleads guilty in $80,000 embezzlem - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Former Pineville city manager pleads guilty in $80,000 embezzlement

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A former Pineville city manager and town recorder recently pleaded guilty in connection to a scheme where she took more than $80,000 from the city.

Brandee D. Phillips-Ellis, 30, pleaded guilty to theft concerning programs receiving federal funds after she fraudulently received benefits under the Safe Routes to Schools Program, which is a federal aid program in Pineville Middle School's Walking Safety project.

From January 2010 to December 2010, the Town of Pineville received about $10,000 under the program.

Phillips-Ellis said she used 12 of the city's checks totaling $14,649.83 to pay her husband's credit card bills, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's office.

She also wrote reimbursement checks and payroll checks to herself.

"Phillips-Ellis further admitted that she cashed a Town of Pineville check for $4,569.58 and used the proceeds in connection with the personal purchase of a car," the news release states.

Additionally, Phillips-Ellis said while she worked at SAFE Housing and Economic Development Inc., or SHED, in McDowell County, she falsified documents to receive $36,380 in payments.

"In total, Phillips-Ellis admitted that she embezzled $80,489.96 from the Town of Pineville and SHED," the news release states.

The plea agreement also notes that Phillips-Ellis agreed that as of October 17, 2012, she owes $10,109.96 to the Town of Pineville.

According to the plea agreement, Phillips-Ellis could face a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when she is sentenced June 25.

 "When people abuse a position of trust and steal from public coffers, they're not just breaking the law — they're ultimately hurting citizens who count on public services," U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin said. "People who attempt to steal from the public till will be caught and they will be punished."