COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The final defendant in a fraud case involving the former chief deputy clerk of the Muscogee County Clerk’s Office has pleaded guilty to her part in a fraud scheme that cost taxpayers in Muscogee County millions of dollars.

On March 1, 2022, Rosalie Bassi, 66, of Phenix City, Alabama, pleaded guilty to one count interstate transportation of stolen property before U.S. District Judge Clay Land.

Bassi is the mother-in-law of Willie Demps, the former chief deputy clerk of the Muscogee County Clerk’s Office. Demps was the ringleader of the fraud scheme.

On Feb. 1, 2022, Demps pleaded guilty to one count conspiracy to commit bank fraud and two counts tax evasion. He will be sentenced on June 2, 2022.

According to officials, Demps worked for the Muscogee County Clerk for approximately 30 years and supervised money deposits received by the Clerk’s Office. The Clerk’s Office received money from fines and condemnations, and payments were frequently made in cash. From at least 2010 to 2019, Demps maintained a safe in his office to store sums of cash that were collected by the Clerk’s Office. During the business day, this safe was rarely locked, even when Demps was away from his office. Demps (or his designee) was responsible for depositing cash received by the Clerk’s Office into an appropriate Clerk of Superior Court bank account. Records indicate that the Clerk’s Office received over $5.5 million in cash during the period of 2010-2019, yet only a single cash deposit of approximately $210 was made into official Columbus accounts in 2019. No cash deposits were made in other years.

From Oct. 19, 2010, to approximately Nov. 27, 2019, Demps issued at least 330 Clerk of Superior Court checks payable to the named co-defendants, and to some individuals not named, with a face value of at least $1.3 million. Bank records prior to Oct. 19, 2010, are not available, and the Muscogee County Clerk’s Office records prior to that date cannot be obtained. Demps would meet various co-defendants in locations away from his place of business at the Clerk’s Office to give the illicit checks to them to be cashed at banks in Columbus and in nearby Alabama. The co-defendants cashed the checks and returned the money to Demps, who would give the participating co-defendant a portion of the money. Demps admits he used the money for personal expenses, to send money to foreign countries and to spend at casinos.

Demps received cash deposits to his bank during the tax years 2018-2019, which he now admits were not the result of direct deposits from his lawful salary but rather proceeds from the money he stole from the Muscogee County Clerk’s Office. This money was not reported to the IRS and resulted in tax liability. Demps deposited $147,455 in cash in 2018 and $327,787 in cash in 2019 and fraudulently failed to account for these amounts as income on his tax returns. The IRS calculated Demps’s total amount of tax due from years 2015 to 2019 as $359,604.

Bassi is scheduled to be sentenced on June 2, 2022. She faces up to ten years in federal prison, three years supervised release, and $250,000 fine.

In addition to Demps and Bassi, Curtis Porch, Dereen Porch, Terry McBride, Samuel Cole George Cook, and Lamarcus Palmer have all pleaded guilty in the fraud scheme. All are scheduled for sentencing on June 2, 2022.