Columbus Woman Sentenced to 24 Months and Full Restitution for Stealing $240k from Non-Profits

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

COLUMBUS, Ga. – A Columbus teacher who admitted to stealing approximately $240,000 from charitable organizations and a local dental office was sentenced to federal prison and ordered to repay the victims in full.

Trenna Denise Trice, 59, of Columbus, was sentenced to serve 24 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and $240,259 in restitution by U.S. District Clay Land on March 29, after she pleaded guilty to wire fraud on Dec. 20, 2021. There is no parole in the federal system.

“Ultimately, it was Trenna Trice’s greed and gambling addiction that led to this moment. Fraudsters who steal the hard-earned money of others must be held to account for these crimes which so often have a harmful ripple effect across a community,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “Our office and our law enforcement partners will continue the work to bring these criminal fraud cases to light and to justice.”

“Ms. Trice was held accountable for her egregious misconduct in stealing funds from these organizations and using the stolen proceeds to fund her gambling addiction,” said FDIC OIG Special Agent in Charge Kyle A. Myles. “The FDIC Office of Inspector General remains committed to working with our law enforcement partners to bring to justice those who threaten to harm the banking system and the community as a whole.”

According to court documents, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-Office of the Inspector General (FDIC-OIG) initiated an investigation into the financial activities of Trice in May 2019, following reports of significant casino losses sourced by an unidentified income stream. The investigation into possible sources of income for her casino activity revealed that her sole source of income was working as a teacher for the Muscogee County School District (MCSD). Prior to teaching, she worked for a dental office and she worked as a volunteer campaign coordinator for the Columbus branch of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF) from 2005 – 2017.

Trice was responsible for organizing the annual Columbus Mayor’s Masked Ball, UNCF’s primary fundraising activity. Her duties included collecting cash, credit card contributions and check payments for donations and ticket sales. During the course of the investigation, agents determined that Trice diverted numerous smaller contributions for her own personal use. UNCF ended their relationship with Trice in 2017, following questions regarding financial irregularities that were indicative of embezzlement. It was later discovered that Trice had also been terminated by the dental office following similar allegations. Trice was also collecting donations for a nonprofit corporation known as SAMARC run by two former NBA basketball players who conduct an annual basketball camp for underprivileged kids in Columbus.

In total, agents identified 109 checks and 265 credit card transactions fraudulently deposited into Trice’s own accounts without authorization. Trice told investigators she had a crippling gambling addiction for the last decade and the money was stolen to fuel her gambling addiction and compensate for her gambling losses. In total, with checks and credit cards, Trice is known to have stolen $240,259 from the following victims: UNCF ($162,044), the dental office ($70,231), SAMARC ($7,784) and the Georgia Dental Society ($200).

This case was investigated by the FDIC-OIG.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Crawford Seals prosecuted the case.