FONTANA — Deborah Sell, the former treasurer for the city of Fontana, was charged Thursday, May 23, in federal court with wire fraud and filing a false tax return.
According to court documents, Sell devised and executed a scheme to defraud the city by using city funds to pay her personal expenses. The scheme allegedly began sometime prior to July 2015 and continued until she left her position with the city in September 2017.
The criminal complaint accuses Sell of using checks issued by the city to pay for personal expenses without lawful authority. She is also accused of using a debit card for a bank account owned by the city to withdraw cash for personal expenses.
The complaint goes on to say that as part of Sell’s employment she obtained cash from city taxpayers for services and fees, such as water utility bills. Instead of depositing the cash into the city’s bank account, she kept a portion for personal use, according to the court document.
On or about Feb. 6, 2017, Sell allegedly used a debit card belonging to the city to withdraw cash from an ATM located at a casino in Riverside, Mo., and then used the cash for personal expenses, according to the court filing.
That transmission of a wire signal from an ATM machine in Missouri to a bank in Kansas led to the wire fraud charge.
The second charge relates to a false individual income tax return Sell reportedly filed on or about April 15, 2017. Sell allegedly failed to report $94,407 on the tax return, according to court records.
Sell is set to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 5, in KC Courtroom 223 before U.S. District Court Chief Magistrate Judge James P. O’Hara.
Fontana Mayor Paula Hambleton said she is aware of the charges against Sell.
“I’m sorry it happened, but we’re trying to move forward now,” she said.
Sell’s husband, Keith, previously served on the Fontana City Council, but he is no longer holding that position.