FBI agent
File Photo | Photo: Sgt. Audrey Hayes / U.S. Army Reserve

A former staffer of U.S. Rep. Brad Schneider has been sentenced to nine months in prison for embezzling almost $80,000 in taxpayer money, which was discovered after he was caught impersonating an FBI agent.

Sterling Carter, 25, 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, court documents show.

Federal prosecutors said 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.

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In total, Carter received $79,491.67 in unauthorized salary and bonus payments.

Carter pleaded guilty in April in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to theft of public funds.

A spokesperson for Schneider said in a statement earlier this year 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.

The theft of funds was learned after a weeks-long nationwide manhunt for Carter, according to a new report from the Daily Beast.

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It took four different law enforcement agencies months to catch Carter.

Two plainclothes officers with the Secret Service were monitoring protests in Washington D.C. on November 14, 2020.

They spotted what appeared to be a police car with an “odd license plate,” the Daily Beast reported. The blue Ford Taurus had blue emergency lights, a laptop computer mount, a prisoner barrier and more.

The Daily Beast reported that Carter was standing near the parked car wearing a shirt that said “federal agent” and wearing a police belt, holstered pistol, radio and other police accessories.

Carter told police officers who approached him that he was “FBI” and said he did not have credentials with him.

Carter got into his car, turned on his emergency lights and fled the scene as officers attempted to pursue him.

Authorities eventually arrested him in Georgia months later after an investigation that led to his identification.

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U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols sentenced Carter late last month to nine months in prison followed by 36 months of supervised release, court records show.

Carter was also ordered to pay $80,491 in restitution.