An Alabama woman who admitted stealing nearly $1 million from her stepson’s business while she was the chief financial officer was sentenced to two years in federal prison Tuesday morning.
Darlene Corbett asked U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land for mercy and her attorney, federal public defender Michael Simpkins, requested she be sentenced to probation. Corbett apologized to the court and to Steve Corbett, her stepson of more than three decades.
“I know God knows my heart and what road he takes me from here, he will always be with me,” Darlene Corbett told the judge.
Steve Corbett wasn’t buying it.
“Good to hear she’s finally apologized,” Corbett told the court at the beginning of a 20-minute victim’s impact statement. “For two years and five months. she has told nothing but lies. I am not her step-son and she’s not step-mom.”
When Steve Corbett’s father died, he said Darlene Corbett was left with “$500,000 to $600,000 cash, a house that was paid for, a car and a truck.”
“I don’t know why she needed money,” Steve Corbett told the court.
Facing a 23-count indictment, Darlene Corbell entered the guilty plea to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud last year. Corbett, who turns 65 tomorrow, claimed she was the victim of fraud by Dorita Clay of Selma, Ala., who was also charged in the thefts.
In the end, Land didn’t buy it, either.
“It’s beyond me how someone like you could have been duped,” Land said before handing down the sentence that included three years probation.
Steve Corbett owns the Grand Reserve off Williams Road in Columbus and another complex in Madison, Ala. His step-mother had worked for him in a financial capacity since 1999 and he trusted her.
Darelene Corbett was ordered to pay $956,918.50 in restitution.
Steve Corbett told the court she had not paid a single dollar.
From April 10, 2015, to Dec. 14, 2015, Darlene Corbett wrote about 70 unauthorized checks on Grand Reserve accounts for a total of $247,175, the plea deal states. Most of them were written to “Darlene B. Corbett.” During that time, Darlene Corbett also took $15,378.50 in unauthorized cash advances off a company credit card, the Ledger-Enquirer reported at the guilty plea.
From May to September 2016, the bulk of the money was stolen. During that time, 24 wire transfers were made from Grand Reserve accounts to “D.L. Clay” for more than $690,000.
Darlene Corbett told the court that she had lost her relationship with her step-grandchildren since the arrest.
“I have not had contact with my grandchildren in two years,” she said.
Steve Corbett said that was a lie. The children had reached out to her and she rebuffed them.
After the sentencing hearing, Steve Corbett talked exclusively with News 3.
“She had told so many truths throughout the process to people I have known my whole life — I am a Phenix City native — and I heard her attorney try and tell what a good person she was,” he said. “And she has done nothing to make any of this any better since she was caught with the theft. In fact, she has made it worse. She goes around town telling anybody who will listen to her her side of the story, which is a complete fabrication and lie.”
In that courtroom Tuesday morning, it became about more than money, Steve Corbett said.
“Before, it was just money. It was $957,000 as Judge Land said,” he said. “… Also, it was the fact that she still wanted to be the good girl. She always wanted to be the good girl since the day she got caught. She is this church girl, and she’s this. She’s so many great things. Some of those things just aren’t true. She’s not what she says she is totally. I bet she regrets it now. But she is not totally what she says she is.”