NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A former resident of Williamsburg was sentenced Tuesday to more than five years in prison for stealing approximately $514,000 from a local ophthalmologist and filing false tax returns that hid the stolen funds.
Court documents say 35-year-old Sherea Darnell worked as the practice manager for the Cullom Eye and Laser Center in Williamsburg from 2012-2016. Both Darnell and Dr. Robert Cullom were W-2 employees of Riverside Medical Group.
Darnell was convicted in May.
Over a four-year period, Darnell used three of Cullom’s credit cards to conduct personal transactions for her own benefit, totaling approximately $514,000. She also obtained access to Cullom’s Wells Fargo Advisors accounts, which she used to pay the balances of the credit cards without his authority, including an account that had been established to pay for medical equipment.
However, Darnell diverted it into making payments on the credit cards. She used the victim’s credit cards to pay for her son’s pre-school tuition, which she deducted on her 2016 tax return.
Records say Darnell also took more than $90,000 in cash advances, transferred funds into her personal USAA accounts, hired a maid service, purchased high-end clothing and airline tickets for herself and her family and made deposits and payments on luxury vehicles.
Darnell failed to report any of these funds obtained via the credit cards on her tax returns for the years 2013-2015.
After her resignation in August 2016, Darnell continued to use the victim’s credit cards to pay her moving expenses, obtain additional cash advances and make other purchases until Cullom discovered the fraud and shut down the accounts.