Former aide to Democrat congressman pleads guilty to theft of public funds

A former congressional aide to Democrat Rep. Brad Schneider (IL) pleaded guilty last week to stealing public funds as part of a scheme to unlawfully inflate the bonus and salary payments he received, and now faces the possibility of a significant term of imprisonment as a result, according to The Hill.

As described in a press release from the Department of Justice, Glenwood, Georgia native Sterling Carter, who had served as Rep. Schneider’s director of operations, habitually submitted fraudulent documentation that resulted in him being paid substantially more than the amount to which he was actually entitled.

During a period of time that spanned November 2019 and January 2021, Carter falsified budget spreadsheets and internal communications to disguise from Schneider and his chief off staff the fact that he was receiving funds far in excess of what he was truly owed.

In all, the Carter ended up obtaining a grand total of $79,491.67 more than he legitimately earned, and according to a statement provided to The Hill, the congressman’s spokesperson indicated that his employment had been terminated back on January 13.

“The office then began working closely with the Department of Justice to uncover and seek justice for funds lost through fraud and abuse of Carter’s position as director of operations. The office is determined to pursue justice for American taxpayers, repayment for the loss to the U.S. Treasury, and to make right by the U.S. Congress,” the statement added.

In the immediate aftermath of his guilty plea, Robert Lee Jenkins Jr, attorney for the former congressional aide, said to Law & Crime, “Mr. Carter regrets getting himself involved in the circumstances which led to his guilty plea today.”

“He certainly accepts responsibility for his conduct. By no means does he think it is reflective of the person that he is, and he’s hopeful to put this episode behind him and move on with his life,” Jenkins added with regard to his client.

According to the Justice Department, Carter, 24, faces upwards of 10 years in prison for the offense to which he pleaded guilty and is set to be sentenced in federal court on July 28.

As infuriating as such an abuse of public funds undoubtedly is, hopefully Carter’s downfall will serve as a cautionary tale to others in D.C. and elsewhere who may struggle with the temptation to help themselves to ill-gotten gains at the taxpayer’s expense.