Columbus banker admits to stealing over $1 million from Synovus

Local News

A former Synovus banker entered a guilty plea in federal court Wednesday afternoon, admitting to stealing more than $1 million from his employer.

John D. Evans II, 47, pleaded guilty to eight counts of bank fraud and tax evasion in front of U.S. District Court Judge Clay Land.

Evans, seated next to his attorney Mark Post, was stoic as Land read each count and asked for the plea. Time and again, Evans said “Guilty.”

Land set an April sentencing for Evans.

Evans was a senior commercial lender for Synovus, handling the account for Fourth Quarter Properties, a major retail shopping center owner that was banked by Synovus, according to the guilty plea read by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mel Hyde.

From July 2, 2013 through May 24, 2017, Evans embezzled $1.046 million from a Fourth Quarter reserve fund with the bank. Evans opened a personal account at another Columbus bank, BB&T, and deposited 27 checks from funds in the Fourth Quarter account at Synovus into his BB&T account.

Evans used the funds for credit card payments, vehicle payments, jewelry, vacations and cash withdrawals, Hyde told the court.

Evans, who earned more than $166,000 in 2016, pleaded guilty to four counts of bank fraud and four counts of tax evasion. The bank fraud is punishable by up to 30 years in prison per count and the tax evasion is punishable by up to five years in prison on each count.

Evans also faces restitution of $1,046,602.40 to Synovus and $221,375 to the IRS.

Synovus, through spokesman Lee Underwood, issued a statement after Evans’ court appearance.

“We appreciate the efforts of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia in bringing this matter to a conclusion, and we are pleased that no customer experienced a loss as result of Mr. Evans’ actions,” the statement read.

“Fraud of this magnitude violates the public trust, and negatively impacts the financial system and the business community as a whole,” said Charles E. Peeler, the U.S. Attorney. “I want to thank the combined investigative work of the FBI, IRS and the Office of the Inspector General, Federal Reserve System. I also want to thank Synovus for their total cooperation in this investigation, and helping bring this fraud to light.”

The case was aggressively pursued by the FBI.

“Evans’ plea is the result of the determination and hard work of federal investigators and prosecutors who aggressively pursue allegations of bank fraud,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI is determined to pursue any allegations of persons who would choose to take advantage of their trusted positions of employment.”

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