Tuscaloosa County Conservator Charged with Failing to Report a Felony
|U.S. Attorney’s Office May 12, 2011|
BIRMINGHAM—Federal prosecutors today charged the Tuscaloosa County Probate Court conservator for failing to report a felony she knew had been committed, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance and FBI Special Agent in Charge Pat Maley.
A one-count information filed in U.S. District Court charges ZONDRA T. HUTTO, 61, of Tuscaloosa, with misprision of felony. Prosecutors also filed a plea agreement with Hutto.
According to the plea agreement, Hutto, a lawyer, will plead guilty to the charge and pay $19,358 in restitution.
As the conservator for Tuscaloosa County, Hutto was responsible for the welfare and property of individuals ruled incompetent. She is charged with knowing and not reporting to authorities that an employee in her law office fraudulently used a bank debit card belonging to one of her clients.
According to Hutto’s plea agreement, between September 2007 and April 2008, a clerk in her law office repeatedly used a bank debit card belonging to a 79-year-old woman diagnosed with dementia. He used the card to withdraw $14,852 from ATMs, to buy two plane tickets to Mexico, costing $1,963, for himself and Hutto, to pay $1,059 for accommodations in Mexico, and to make 11 gasoline purchases totaling $584, the plea agreement says.
During the same time, the clerk also used a department store credit card belonging to the nursing home patient to buy clothing for himself and a designer purse, which he gave Hutto for Christmas, according to the plea agreement.
Hutto was first appointed temporary guardianship in September 2007 of the 79-year-old woman found to be in need of protective services, according to the plea agreement. The Circuit Court of Tuscaloosa County granted Hutto permanent Letters of Guardianship and Letters of Conservatorship for the woman in December 2007.
The maximum fine for misprision of a felony is three years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The FBI investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Pat Meadows is prosecuting the case.