Trenna Denise Trice — a 59-year-old resident of Columbus, Georgia — pled guilty to wire fraud this week.
Trice is a school teacher by day, but also volunteered at multiple charitable organizations and non-profits. According to the filing on justice.gov, Trice deposited 109 cheques and made 265 credit card transactions into her personal accounts from the United Negro College Fund ($162,044), SAMARC ($7,784), the Georgia Dental Society ($200), and the dental office that previously employed her ($70,231).
The investigation began after the FDIC received an anonymous report of Trice’s gambling losses at an unnamed casino. The report arrived in May 2019. In that report, the snitch claimed that Trice had failed to declare a clear income stream for her losses. This is the sort of thing that looks a lot like money laundering to the FDIC.
FDIC’s agents dug into the matter. It soon became clear that Trice’s work as a schoolteacher could not have funded her significant losses. More digging revealed that the dental office she had previously worked for had fired from her over allegations of theft. The UNCF also cut ties with Trice in 2017 for similar reasons.
Gone in a Trice
U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary took a hard stance in his role as prosecutor.
“Trenna Trice abused the trust of two non-profits, a small business and many individual citizens when she choose to steal money intended for others to fund her gambling addiction,” Leary said. “Our office, along with our law enforcement partners, will do everything in our power to bring fraudsters to justice.”
Trice’s roles with the various charities included the running of fundraisers. According to the filings, she deposited large donations according to procedure, while siphoning some smaller donations off for personal use.
“The criminal conduct, in this case, is even more egregious because Ms. Trice is a public servant, occupied a position of trust in charitable organizations, and stole from those organizations,” Special Agent in Charge Kyle A. Myles of the FDIC claimed. “The FDIC Office of Inspector General is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to investigate matters of fraud which impact both the banking system and the community as a whole.”
Trice explained that the motive for her crimes was a decade-long struggle with gambling addiction. It is not uncommon for gambling addicts to get in trouble chasing that particular dragon. Youtuber “Jujimufu” broke with his longtime video partner Tom over alleged embezzlement.
More recenly, a recently arrested cocaine dealer blamed poker debts for his act of breaking bad.
Trice faces up to 20 years in prison, up to $250,000 in fines, and up to 3 years of supervised release after all that. The court set Trice’s sentencing for March 29, 2022.