A former staffer of U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider, whose district includes Lake County, has pleaded guilty to embezzling almost $80,000 in taxpayer money by falsifying paperwork, prosecutors said.
Sterling Carter, 24, of Glenwood, Georgia, was employed as the director of operations for Schneider.
The 10th District, represented by Schneider, includes a large part of Lake County and small parts of Cook County and McHenry County.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Carter was responsible for managing the office’s budget and processing payroll and bonus payments for all employees in the office.
Between November 2019 and January 2021, Carter submitted fraudulent paperwork which purported to authorize a higher salary and bonus payments for himself.
Federal prosecutors say Carter concealed the theft from Schneider and the office’s chief of staff by falsely representing, in both communications and a budget spreadsheet, that he was only being paid what he was legitimately owed.
In total, Carter received $79,491.67 in unauthorized salary and bonus payments.
Carter pleaded guilty Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to theft of public funds.
A spokesperson for Schneider said in a statement that Carter was fired on January 13, 2021, the Patch reported.
“The office then began working closely with the Department of Justice to uncover and seek justice for funds lost through fraud and abuse of Carter’s position as director of operations,” Communications Director Matt Fried said.
“The office is determined to pursue justice for American taxpayers, repayment for the loss to the U.S. Treasury, and to make right by the U.S. Congress,” Fried said.
Carter faces up to 10 years in prison and will be sentenced on July 28. The case was investigated by the FBI.