Former Estridge Homes controller sentenced to 21 months in fraud case

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A former employee for Carmel-based Estridge Homes learned his sentence this week after being accused of fraud.

Thomas Carter was indicted in October 2016 after being accused of depositing $340,000 of the company’s money into his own bank account. Thomas served as the controller for the home builder, according to our media partners at the IndyStar.

According to court documents, a judge sentenced him Monday to 21 months in federal prison and two years of supervised released. Carter pleaded guilty to one count of bank fraud earlier this year.

Between March 2013 and March 2016, prosecutors said Carter took money from the company’s accounts on 48 different occasions. He falsified company records to make it look like the payments went to a vendor, prosecutors said.

He began taking money from the company a month after he was hired, prosecutors said.

In March 2016, two Estridge Homes bank accounts were overdrawn. Carter falsely represented incoming wire transfers and falsified related documents, prosecutors said, which brought Carter’s activities to the attention of company management.

Carter said he was “living above his means” and had to “maintain a certain type of lifestyle for his three children,” according to our media partners at the IndyStar.

U.S. Attorney Josh Minkler said Carter’s “excuses” weren’t sympathetic to his case.

“Instead, they alternately blame the victim and his family for his having committed the crime,” Minkler argued. “Nothing in his explanations accounts for the fraud he committed almost immediately upon starting work with an employer who took him in and paid him well.”

Carter faced a maximum sentence of 30 years, but prosecutors recommended a shorter sentence because he had no prior criminal history.