PORTLAND, Maine — Thomas Nelson of Alfred, former chief executive officer of York County Community Action Corp., pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to conspiracy, embezzlement from a federally funded program, tax evasion and signing false tax return charges, U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II announced.
York County Community Action Corp. provides social service, health and educational programs to York County individuals and families living in poverty, the U.S. attorney’s office said in a press release.
From 2006 to 2010, the corporation received in excess of $30 million in federal funds to be used for those purposes.
Court records reveal that from 2005 to 2010, Nelson diverted $413,000 in corporation funds to a consulting company that had submitted only one invoice for $8,700, the press release said. In exchange for the fraudulent payments, the consulting company paid more than $20,000 of Nelson’s personal expenses, including his home mortgage and also kicked cash back to him.
From 2004 to 2009, Nelson also diverted more than $400,000 in corporation funds to a defunct nonprofit entity, New England Community Action Agency, of which he was treasurer, and recorded those payments as donations or consulting expenses, the press release said. After transferring the funds, he used more than $300,000 of them to pay personal credit card and home mortgage bills and to gamble.
In all, Nelson admitted embezzling approximately $900,000 from York County Community Action Corp. between 2004 and 2010, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
From 2005 to 2010, Nelson also failed to report to the Internal Revenue Service more than $400,000 in embezzled income, the press release said.
Finally, in 2006 and 2007, he prepared and signed New England Community Action Agency tax returns that suggested the agency had revenue and assets when in fact it did not.
Nelson faces imprisonment of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000 on the conspiracy count; up to 10 years and a fine of up to $250,000 on the embezzlement count; up to five years and a fine of up to $100,000 on each of the tax evasion counts; and up to three years and a fine of up to $100,000 on the false tax return counts, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
As part of his plea agreement, Nelson agreed to pay restitution of about $1.2 million to York County Community Action Corp. and about $150,000 to the IRS.
He will be sentenced after completion of a presentence report by the United States Probation Office.
Nelson entered his guilty pleas before U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen.
The case was investigated by the criminal investigation office of the IRS and the Offices of Inspector General for the Departments of Transportation, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Agriculture.