Nonprofit group's former financial chief sentenced

Associated Press Published: September 11, 2012
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former chief financial officer of a nonprofit organization that promotes the use of energy from renewable sources has been sent to prison.

Cameron J. Potter of New Market was sentenced to 36 months on Monday by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas W. Phillips in Knoxville.

Potter pleaded guilty a year ago to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

An announcement from the U.S. Attorney's Office for East Tennessee said the court also ordered Potter to repay the government more than $400,000.

U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman said Potter's crimes were against taxpayers.

"Mr. Potter's fraud scheme diverted taxpayer-provided funds from their intended purpose, specifically, to advance clean energy initiatives," Friedman said.

Federal investigators said that through his position as Chief Financial Officer for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Potter embezzled more than $403,000 in company funds through fraudulent transactions, counterfeit checks, and diverted receipts. He then used the stolen funds to pay for a self-indulgent lifestyle, consisting of cars, a second house, a large collection of sports memorabilia, and a paramour in Atlanta.

The prosecutor said Potter created phony invoices, made out to businesses with names similar to those Knoxville-based SACE used as consultants, then paid them through the nonprofit's American Express account and transferred the stolen funds to his own accounts through an online banking service.