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Southern Pine Credit Union President and Controller Plead Guilty to Bank Fraud

United States Attorney's Office Middle District of Georgia

VALDOSTA, Ga. – The former President and the former Controller of Southern Pine Credit Union in Valdosta both pleaded guilty to long-running multimillion-dollar bank loan and aggravated identity theft schemes.

Teresa Paulo, of Valdosta, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft today. Co-defendant Leah Lehman, 63, of Valdosta, pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft on Oct. 26. Both women face a maximum of 30 years in prison for bank fraud, and a mandatory two years in prison in addition to any other prison term imposed for aggravated identity theft, to be followed by a maximum of five years of supervised release and a $1,000,000 fine.

U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands is presiding over this case. Lehman’s sentencing date is scheduled for Feb. 28, 2024. Paulo’s sentencing date will be determined by the Court. The defendants are not eligible for parole.

“As leaders of this credit union, the defendants knowingly put their members—local paper mill employees and their families—at great risk with their complex schemes to enrich themselves,” said U.S. Attorney Peter D. Leary. “I want to thank the FBI and FDIC investigators for unraveling their carefully engineered criminal fraud and helping us hold them accountable.”


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