MAY 09, 2007
The longtime treasurer of a small Michigan county has pleaded guilty to 11 counts of embezzlement for stealing more than $1 million from taxpayers and investing the money in a fraudulent Nigerian internet ring.
The Michigan Attorney General’s office began investigating the Alcona County public treasurer last year when bank employees reported that the treasurer (Thomas Katona) had sent eight payments totaling $185,500 to overseas accounts. It turns out that the money went to a fraudulent Nigerian banking operation.
In all, Katona embezzled taxpayers out of more than $1.2 million and this week he unexpectedly pleaded guilty to all the charges filed against him. Katona, who served as the county’s treasurer for 13 years, also lost $72,000 of his own money in the fraud ring.
Alcona is a small and rural county that runs along Lake Huron. Its population is only 11,000 and its total budget is about $4 million. This case illustrates that public corruption can be huge, even in the smallest municipalities and towns.
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