Former Credit Union Manager Sentenced For Embezzlement

NEW BERN – A Wake Forest man was sentenced Wednesday to 48 months in prison and five years of supervised release for embezzlement from a credit union. On June 24, 2020, Johnnie Earl Harrell, 49, pled guilty to the charges.

According to court documents, between 2008 and 2019, Harrell served as branch manager of a credit union located in Zebulon. During this period, Harrell exploited his position as branch manager to steal and embezzle at least $631,838.36 in funds belonging to the credit union and its customers.

Among Harrell’s victims were retirees who Harrell convinced to rollover existing retirement accounts into annuities. Harrell never purchased the annuities, but instead converted the victims’ funds to personal use.

Harrell prepared fraudulent annuity account statements which were periodically presented to victims to preclude detection of the scheme.

Harrell will be ordered to pay restitution in an amount to be determined at a later date.

Homeland Security Investigations, the North Carolina Department of Insurance Criminal Investigations, and the Zebulon Police Department investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Toby Lathan prosecuted the case.