“Professionals, like Lassiter, who exploit their positions of trust to steal from their employers, cause financial harm as well as institutional damage to the organizations they commit to serve,” said U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan in a statement.
Lassiter, who had been the accountant for the Georgia Bankers Association until March 2021, used a legitimate credit card issued by the group “to make improper and unauthorized purchases,” Buchanan said. Lassiter then concealed his actions “by making fictious entries, misrepresenting the nature of payments, and overstating the number of payments in the GBA’s general ledger,” Buchanan said.
He worked for the association for more than two decades as an accountant, but his illicit actions were carried out over the course of his final seven years with the group.
Lassiter had been convicted of federal bank fraud in the 1990s and had served prison time for that offense, Buchanan said. “It is regrettable that Lassiter’s previous conviction for fraud did not deter him from engaging in further criminal conduct.”
The investigation into the crime was conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor.
The bankers group, which has headquarters in Atlanta, has 169 members, including virtually all federally insured lending institutions. In a statement, Joe Brannen, chief executive of the Georgia Bankers Association, thanked the prosecutors.
“That money was intended to support the health and wellness of member institution employees and their families and other programs we offer,” Brannen said.
The judge imposed the maximum jail time for Lassiter under federal guidelines, he said. “In addition to serving as severe punishment for his unlawful acts, a full jail term sends an important message to others who steal from those they serve that they’ll be caught and will pay a heavy price for their bad choices.”
Brannan said the regular background check of new employees turned up no problems in Lassiter’s past. The association was not aware of Lassiter’s previous conviction, he said, until “the day before the sentencing hearing, when I read it in the U.S. Attorney’s filing.”