COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) — A Columbus teacher who stole over $240,000 from nonprofit organizations she worked for, including the United Negro College Fund, has pleaded guilty to federal wire fraud charges.
Trenna Denise Trice, 59, pleaded guilty on Dec. 20, according to a news release. Authorities identified 109 checks and 265 credit card transactions fraudulently deposited. Trice cited her gambling addiction as the motivation behind her actions.
The FDIC Office of Inspector General’s investigation of Trice’s financial activities began in May 2019 due to reports of hefty casino losses funded by an unknown income source. The investigation revealed that Trice’s job as a Muscogee County School teacher was her only source of active income, although she previously worked at a dental office and as a campaign-coordinator for the Columbus branch of the United Negro College Fund.
Trice’s responsibilities as a campaign-coordinator included collecting cash, credit card contributions and check payments. These transactions encompassed both donations and ticket sales.
The UNCF cut ties with Trice in 2017 after questions regarding her financial irregularities, and she was terminated from the dental office for similar reasons. She also collected donations for SAMARC, a nonprofit that runs an annual basketball camp for children in Columbus.
Agents found that Trice redirected small donations for her own personal use, while larger contributions went to the intended source. Overall, they found 109 checks and 265 credit card transactions fraudulently deposited into her personal account.
In total, the FDIC Office of Inspector General reports that Trice stole $240,259 from the following sources:
- UNCF ($162,044)
- Dental office ($70,231)
- SAMARC ($7,784)
- Georgia Dental Society ($200)
“Trenna Trice abused the trust of two non-profits, a small business and many individual citizens when she choose to steal money intended for others to fund her gambling addiction,” U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary said in a statement. “I commend the FDIC-OIG investigators who unraveled her web of lies through their extensive investigation.”
Trice is facing a maximum of 20 years in prison, which will be followed by three years of supervised release with a $250,000 fine. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 29, 2022.