The trial of Brenda Palmer, a former interim chief financial officer at Montgomery Public School (MPS) System allegedly involved in a scheme to steal over $300,000 in taxpayer funds, has been reset again to begin on September 11.
According to court documents, Palmer pleaded not guilty on July 8 in Montgomery County Circuit Court. A pre-trial hearing in Montgomery County Circuit Court is scheduled for September 5.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced her arrest in November 2021. Palmer, 68, of Montgomery, was charged with violating the state ethics law and lying to an Attorney General's Office investigator. She surrendered to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and is currently out on bond.
Palmer is charged with two counts of using her official position for personal gain and two counts of providing a false statement to an investigator with the Attorney General's 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 at MPS to perpetrate a false invoicing scheme in which she and her accomplices stole $314,867.56 from the school system.
When questioned by investigators with the Attorney General's Office about her involvement with the false invoicing scheme, Palmer allegedly lied and denied any knowledge of the scheme, according to Marshall.
According to court documents, Walter James, another former MPS employee who pleaded guilty to wire fraud in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Alabama in August 2021 over his involvement in the invoice theft scheme at MPS, will possibly be called as a witness against Palmer if the case goes to trial in September.
"He will testify to, among other things, Palmer's participation in the scheme to steal from the Montgomery Public School system, he will identify emails and text messages between him and Palmer, and he will detail Palmer's attempts to conceal her crime and frame an innocent person for her acts," Marshall wrote in a filing this week requesting James be released to state custody on September 7 and be returned to Jesup immediately upon release as a witness by the court or upon the conclusion of the proceedings scheduled for September 11, 2023, whichever is sooner.
James is currently serving a five-year sentence at Federal Correctional Institution in Jesup, Ga.
According to the Department of Justice (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, according to the DOJ.
To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email caleb.taylor@1819News.com.
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