Home Mobile Press Releases 2013 Autauga County Man Sentenced to 60 Months for $6.2 Million Theft

Autauga County Man Sentenced to 60 Months for $6.2 Million Theft
Ricky Nelson Dawson, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Employee, Converted Checks Payable to the Government

U.S. Attorney’s Office March 08, 2013
  • Middle District of Alabama (334) 233-7280

MONTGOMERY, AL—Ricky Nelson Dawson, age 54, of Autauga County, was sentenced today by United States District Judge Myron H. Thompson to a prison term of 60 months, based on his conviction for wire fraud arising out of his theft of approximately $6.2 million in checks payable to the federal government, U.S. Attorney George L. Beck, Jr., announced today.

According to court records, Dawson, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employee, had served since 2000 as director of the Bay Minette and Camden offices of USDA’s Rural Development programs. One of those programs was the Rural Utilities Service, which provided loans and grants to local water authorities and electric utilities (the authorities).

Between March 2007 and May 2012, Dawson received checks—all payable to “Rural Development” or a variation thereof—from various Authorities representing funds intended as payment to USDA. Dawson embezzled the checks by depositing them into an account in the name “Ryal Development Farm” that he had opened at First Community Bank, in Chatom. On some of the checks, Dawson hand wrote the letter “y” over the “ur” in “Rural” to make it appear as if “Ryal” Development was the payee of the checks. The following chart summarizes Dawson’s activities:

Date Deposited Amount ($) Payor
March 22, 2007 149,838.29 East Central Baldwin County
January 10, 2008 28,000 Hobson Water System
April 4, 2008 106,246.29 Mexia Water System
November 3, 2008 24,841.77 Mexia Water System
December 8, 2008 21,464.60 Town of Autaugaville
February 18, 2009 75,000 St. Stephens Water System
August 21, 2009 400,000 Southern Pine Electric Cooperative
January 4, 2010 5,000 Freemanville Water System
January 22, 2010 35,000 Freemanville Water System
April 21, 2010 90,000 Freemanville Water System
September 28, 2010 70,000 Freemanville Water System
November 22, 2010 500,000 Perry County Water Authority
March 1, 2011 190,534 East Central Baldwin County
April 14, 2011 995,000 Perry County Water Authority
July 1, 2011 779,263.73 Autauga County Water Authority
December 9, 2011 799,172.79 West Dallas Water Authority
April 18, 2012 999,000 City of Thomasville Water Works and Sewer Board
May 4, 2012 957,559.29 City of Thomasville Water Works and Sewer Board


Total: $6,225,920.76

After depositing the checks, Dawson transferred the funds into his accounts at Regions Bank and E*TRADE Securities. He also used the funds from later thefts to make payments to authorities that were the payors of checks Dawson had previously converted and to USDA. The net amount taken by Dawson after the “repayments” came to approximately $3.8 million. A hearing to determine restitution will be scheduled within 90 days.

Dawson has been free on a $25,000 unsecured bond. He was ordered to report to prison on May 31, 2013.

The case was investigated by the FBI and by USDA’s Office of Inspector General and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Andrew O. Schiff and Tommie B. Hardwick.

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