Former Shelby County Chancery Court Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing $1,063,903.28
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 28, 2011|
MEMPHIS, TN—Brandon Gunn, age 47, of Memphis, Tennessee, pled guilty to one count of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy to steal from a government entity receiving federal funds and money laundering), one count of 18 U.S.C. § 666 (theft from a government entity receiving federal funds), and one count of 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (money laundering), announced United States Attorney Edward L Stanton, III, and A. Todd McCall, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Memphis Division.
According to the information filed in the case, Brandon Gunn was an accounting technician in the Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk’s Office. He was responsible for dealing with the sale of properties for delinquent real estate taxes. Funds from delinquent tax sales are deposited into the Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk’s Fund Account, along with other funds. Beginning in 2008, Gunn commenced to write checks on that account payable to other co-conspirators or to entities he created for the purpose of disguising his involvement in the theft. The entities Gunn created were Sunset 33, LLC, and First Family, LLC.
Gunn used his knowledge of the Chancery Court system and of tax sales to make it appear these checks were legitimate. The checks were cashed or deposited into the accounts of the entities or into the account of a co-conspirator. Ultimately, Brandon Gunn and a co-conspirator used these funds for their own purposes.
In March 2011, Gunn was confronted by the Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk and Master about some of these transactions. Gunn indicated that they were related to an off duty business in which he was participating. He was advised this was improper and that the funds needed to be returned. Gunn embezzled additional money and deposited it into a co-conspirator’s bank account. The co-conspirator then used these funds to obtain cashier’s checks payable to the Clerk’s Fund Account. Gunn then repaid the Clerk’s Fund Account with the additional money he had embezzled from that same account.
United States Attorney Edward L. Stanton, III stated: “By stealing over a million dollars entrusted to the Shelby County Chancery Court Clerk’s Office by the public, Brandon Gunn shamelessly violated the trust placed in him as a government official. Gunn was supposed to be a caretaker of funds from sales of properties, many lost by people and businesses experiencing severe economic hardships. Instead, he diverted these funds for his own selfish pleasures. He even had the audacity to continue embezzling money after being confronted about his actions. We will continue to hold accountable and bring to justice those public employees like Gunn who brazenly steal from government coffers.”
“Government employees are placed in positions of trust, and when they violate that trust the fabric of our community is weakened,” said A. Todd McCall, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Memphis Division of the FBI. “The Memphis Division of the FBI will continue to aggressively pursue those who illegally enrich themselves by abusing their public employment, appointment or election.”
This case was investigated by Special Agent Mike Wiederspahn with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Memphis Division and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Fred Godwin on behalf of the government.