The former executive director of the Camden County Public Service Authority, responsible for parks and recreation in the coastal Georgia community, is going to federal prison for misappropriating funds intended for payment of employees’ federal payroll taxes. He’ll also pay more than $670k in restitution.
53-year-old Willliam Brunson of Kingsland, Ga. was sentenced to 32 months in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood after pleading guilty to one count of Tax Evasion, according to Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Judge Wood also ordered Brunson to pay restitution of $677,768.40 and to serve three years of supervised release after completion of his prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.
“Such blatant theft as the scheme perpetrated by William Brunson strains the already fragile trust in public service,” U.S. Attorney Christine said in a news release. “This investigation and the ensuing prison sentence should be a stark reminder to other public servants that they are accountable to the taxpayers they serve.”
According to court documents and testimony, Brunson was responsible for paying over to the Internal Revenue Service employment taxes on behalf of the Public Service Authority (PSA). Federal taxes were withheld from employees’ paychecks from 2014 to 2016, but Brunson failed to remit more than $677,000 that was due to the IRS. In addition to not filing his personal tax returns during that period, Brunson also used a Camden County PSA credit card and other funds for his personal use, including the purchase of antique cars and car parts.
Brunson was terminated from the PSA in May 2018 after an audit of PSA finances and an investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). He was arrested by Camden County Sheriff’s deputies in 2018 and charged with 400 counts of financial transaction card fraud as well as criminal receipt of goods, conspiracy to commit a crime, conspiracy to defraud a state or political subdivision, and theft by deception. The feds later took the case over.
“It is our hope that holding Brunson accountable for his greed will help regain some of the public’s trust that was eroded by his actions,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “When public officials abuse their positions of trust by stealing from the taxpayers they serve, it is a priority for the FBI and our federal, state and local partners to root them out and bring them to justice.”
“Government officials should be held to a higher ethical standard and it was obvious that Brunson chose greed over doing the honest thing,” said James E. Dorsey, IRS Criminal Investigations, Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Field Office. “IRS-CI will continue to put resources on these investigations in an effort to rebuild public trust in our government officials.”
The case was investigated by the IRS, the FBI and the GBI, and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia.