Montgomery County Circuit Judge James Anderson sentenced Brenda Palmer, a former interim chief financial officer of Montgomery Public Schools, to a five-year sentence in community corrections and one year of supervised parole on Tuesday.

Palmer pleaded guilty in September to two counts of state ethics law violations and two counts of making false statements to investigators.

According to court documents, Palmer initially pleaded not guilty on July 8.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced her arrest in November 2021. Palmer was 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 was prosecuted by the Attorney General's Special Investigations Division.

Specifically, the warrant alleged that Palmer used her position as interim chief school financial officer to perpetrate a false invoicing scheme in which she and her accomplices stole approximately $291,000 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.

"Betraying the public's trust is never acceptable and will not be tolerated in our state," Marshall said in a statement after Palmer pleaded guilty in September. "In this case, Mrs. Palmer's brazen corruption and utter disregard for the law was astonishing. My office will continue to identify and prosecute those exploiting the public sector for personal gain."

Palmer served as the interim CSFO for the Montgomery Public Schools (MPS) system. During that time, she enacted a fraudulent billing scheme that deceived MPS out of $291,367 between November 2017 and April 2019. Her accomplice, Walter James, the former vice-principal of then-Jefferson Davis High School, pleaded guilty in both state and federal court for his role in the scheme and is serving a 60-month prison term.

According to Palmer's sentence, she'll also be required, along with her co-defendant, to pay the stolen total of approximately $291,000 back in restitution.

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