Jonesboro woman admits to theft

ATLANTA — A Jonesboro woman has admitted to her role in the theft of nearly $1 million from Cox Communications, said federal officials.

Sakia Allen, 38, worked for Cox first as a senior accounts payable specialist and then as finance solutions support specialist until April 2012. Her co-defendant, Joysha Flucker, 36, of Decatur, also worked for Cox. Allen pleaded guilty to wire fraud July 25.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the pair had access to the company’s electronic invoicing system that tracked the company’s payments to various third parties. Yates said the two manipulated the system so the company would issue duplicate payments to the third parties.

“However, the duplicate payments were directed into bank accounts under the control of the defendants,” she said. “As a result of the defendants’ actions, Cox Communications suffered losses of at least $943,865.46.”

Yates said the actions violated the company’s trust.

“Those who shamelessly steal from their employer should expect to be held accountable,” she said. “Companies must be able to trust their employees, especially when those employees are entrusted with handling money. The charges against these defendants reflect that they violated the law as well as their employer’s confidence.”

Flucker was indicted May 21 and was arraigned Tuesday and held in federal custody, said Yates.

Yates said the indictment charges the defendants with multiple counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. Each wire fraud count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and the conspiracy count carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, she said.

Each count also carries a fine of up to $250,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Yates said the government is also seeking the forfeiture of all funds derived from this scheme, having previously forfeited a house and luxury automobiles as proceeds of the alleged offense.

All defendants should be considered innocent until proven guilty.