Former Muscogee Co. deputy clerk, co-defendants sentenced in fraud case

Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 11:37 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 7:25 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - A former Muscogee County Deputy Clerk convicted of a multi-million dollar fraud case was sentenced by a judge in court Thursday morning, June 2.

64-year-old Willie Demps of Phenix City and seven co-defendants all pleaded guilty to an elaborate scheme from 2010 to 2019.

Demps was an employee with the Muscogee County Superior Court Clerk’s Office for nearly 30 years.

As the financial manager and chief deputy clerk, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Helmick says Demps stole over seven million dollars over 20 years.

The defendant even brought others to his scheme, writing checks from the Superior Clerk’s Office directly to the co-defendants. They were all cashing checks and taking the money to Demps without taking or asking for a cut themselves.

It was not until 2018 that the current Superior Clerk Danielle Forte took office and asked for an internal audit of the Clerk’s Office.

“That investigation led right us directly to Willie Demps.” An investigation Forte says Demps never wanted to happen.

“After my request, Demps actively tried to dismay me from having the internal audit. Demps told me I should not have the internal audit as the external audit didn’t show an impropriety and that an internal audit would be a waste of time and money.”

Now, Demps is sentenced to 12 years and one month in federal prison - 145 months. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.3 million in restitution.

During court, Demps’ co-defendants claimed they knew nothing about what he was doing and had no idea hundreds of checks were being cashed for Demps’ financial gain.

In February, Demps pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts of tax evasion - which had him facing up to 40 years in federal prison.

The defendant’s lawyers say they do not fully agree with the sentencing. Charles Cox, Demps’ attorney, said, “The judge asked if we had any objections, and we voiced those on the record and objected to the counts of which he imposed a partially consecutive sentence.”

Therefore, more than likely, there will be an appeal for this case.

An interesting fact to note is that during the court proceeding, Judge Clay Land asked Demps if he was the only employee of the county in this scheme. His answer was “no.” So we might see more people facing charges in this scheme.

Below is a list of the co-defendants and their sentences:

  • 43-year-old Terry McBride, of Smiths Station: 2 years in prison | $299,285 in restitution
  • 72-year-old Samuel Cole, of Columbus: 18 months in prison | $378,028 in restitution
  • 33-year-old George Cook, of Columbus: 1 day followed by supervised release of 5 years | $215,196 in restitution
  • 66-year-old Rosalee Bassi: five years probation | $61,891 in restitution
  • 34-year-old Lamarcus Palmer, of Smiths Station: one-year probation | $12,666 in restitution

Husband and wife Curtis and Doreen Porch of Columbus will be sentenced later this month.

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