A former City of Cherryville employee was sentenced on Thursday to just over a year in prison for embezzling nearly $93,000 from the city.
Jennifer Neal Hoyle, 36, of Cherryville, pleaded guilty to three felony counts of program fraud in 2013 as the result of a joint state and federal investigation into inconsistencies in the city’s finances, according to a press release from the United State Attorney’s office for the Western District of North Carolina.
Hoyle will serve three years of supervised release after serving her prison term, and has to pay $92,922.55 in restitution to Cherryville. She was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Conrad, Jr.
Hoyle was a Senior Customer Service Representative/Utility Supervisor for the city. Her duties included collecting and posting utility payments. Hoyle stole cash payments made by customers, beginning in January 2008 and ending in May 2011, according to the release.
Court documents said Hoyle took customer payments, issued receipts, credited customer accounts and pocketed the cash. She then deleted the transactions from the city’s computer system using her supervisory override privileges.
Hoyle created an “‘extra charge’ journal” that she used to write off the cash payments so they would not appear on the customers’ bills.
The release said the fraud was discovered when a customer questioned duplicate charges on a bill and provided a paper receipt as proof of payment. Hoyle failed to write off that charge in her “extra charge journal.”
Hoyle was terminated from her position with the city in May 2012.
She was ordered to report to the Federal Bureau of Prisons to serve her 366-day sentence. She is ineligible for parole.
Hoyle’s former supervisor, Bonny Verley Alexander, 59, was sentenced earlier in March for embezzling more than $400,000 over a six-year period from the City of Cherryville. Alexander, the city’s finance director, was sentenced to two years in prison.
The FBI, SBI and Gaston County Police Department investigated Hoyle’s case. Michael Savage, of the Charlotte U.S. Attorney’s Office, served as prosecutor.