By Craig Monger
Attorney General Steve Marshall announced the arrest of Brenda Palmer, a former interim chief financial officer for the Montgomery Public School System (MPS).
The 68-year-old is charged with one count of using her official position for personal gain and one count of providing a false statement to an investigator from the Attorney General's (AG) Office. The case is being prosecuted by Attorney General Marshall's Special Investigations Division.
Specifically, the warrant alleges that Palmer used her position as interim Chief School Financial Officer for MPS to perpetrate a fraudulent invoicing scheme in which she and her accomplices stole $314,867.56 from the school system.
Palmer surrendered herself to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office on Monday. If convicted, Palmer faces a penalty of two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000 for the ethics charge, a class B felony; and one year and one day to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 for the charge of providing a false statement to an AG investigator, which is a class C felony.
No further information about the investigation or about Palmer's alleged crimes other than that stated in the warrant is to be released at this time.
This investigation comes on the heels of the State Examiner's audit in 2020, which led six former and current MPS employees to be charged with misusing over $700,000 in funds. The audit, and subsequent investigation, led to the arrest and sentencing of Walter James III of Montgomery, a former assistant principal at Jefferson Davis High School.
According to the DOJ, court documents and testimony provided in open court showed that James held himself out to be the owner of a consulting company, "ED-ONE Professional Development Services." At the same time, he was employed by the MPS system. He then partnered with others at his high school and the MPS central office to submit fraudulent invoices for consulting or professional development services.
In August, James was sentenced to five years in prison, after which he will serve three years of supervised release. According to the DOJ, James' scheme, which occurred from August 2016 to April 2019, created a loss of $314,867.55 for the MPS.