Former Georgia Department of Revenue Employees Indicted for Accepting Bribes
|U.S. Attorney’s Office March 21, 2014|
ATLANTA—Brenda Joyce Davidson, Gwendolyn Lockett, Sheryl Monique Taylor, and Keresa Foster have been arraigned on indictments returned by a federal grand jury on March 12, 2014, charging them with accepting cash bribes in exchange for issuing Georgia car titles.
“These defendants are charged with taking official actions that were motivated by their personal financial gain instead of their duty to serve the citizens of this state with integrity,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Thanks to the collaborative efforts of federal and state law enforcement agencies, the defendants are no longer in a position to subvert Georgia’s car titling system for their personal gain.”
J. Britt Johnson, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “Public corruption at all levels erodes the public’s trust placed in not only those individuals but also the organization they represent. The FBI will continue to provide significant investigative resources toward public corruption related matters, noting that it is one of the FBI’s top criminal investigative priorities.”
Staci Guest, director of the Office of Special Investigations, stated, “The suspect’s indictments show how serious the State of Georgia is at finding individuals who erode public trust and confidence. The Georgia Department of Revenue will continue to work with our federal and local law enforcement officials to combat individuals who commit fraud.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Davidson, Lockett, Taylor, and Foster were all customer service representatives at the Georgia Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Division, responsible for processing and issuing car titles and registration documents. In 2012 and 2013, each of the defendants accepted bribes from individuals they believed to be customers in need of car titles. The individuals were actually FBI agents posing as customers or other individuals working under the direction of the FBI. Soon after accepting the bribes, each defendant accessed Georgia’s official car titling databases to process, print, and provide the fraudulent car titles. The defendants would meet with the purported customers outside of normal business hours and at various locations throughout the metropolitan Atlanta area. During those meetings, the defendants would accept cash bribes, obtain titling paperwork, and provide the fraudulent titles.
At the time the defendants provided the car titles, they knew or suspected that the titling paperwork was incomplete or fraudulent. On one occasion, a defendant accepted a cash bribe in exchange for processing and printing a car title. The defendant soon discovered that she could not print the car title because the Department of Revenue changed its title printing policy for individual car owners. Later, in order to circumvent the Department of Revenue’s title printing restrictions, the defendant accessed Georgia’s car titling database to obtain the name of a defunct car dealer, provided that dealer’s name to the purported customer, and processed fraudulent paperwork containing the dealer’s name despite knowing that the dealer was not involved in the unlawful transaction.
Brenda Joyce Davidson, 55; Gwendolyn Lockett, 49; Sheryl Monique Taylor, 31; and Keresa Foster, 44, all of the Atlanta, Georgia area, were arraigned before United States Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker.
Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendant is presumed innocent of the charges, and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Assistant United States Attorney Nekia S. Hackworth is prosecuting the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.Pressefirstname.lastname@example.org or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.