Local News

Judge orders ex-Durham official to repay city for fraud

Posted December 21, 2010 1:45 p.m. EST
Updated December 21, 2010 2:07 p.m. EST

— A judge has ordered a former Durham official to pay the city $5,000 a month, starting in January, to make up for money she skimmed from a federal small-business loan program.

Anita Bennett pleaded guilty in October 2007 to 20 counts of obtaining property by false pretense and was sentenced to nearly three years in prison. She also was ordered to pay $180,789 in restitution.

Bennett immediately repaid the city $50,000, but officials said she hadn't made any payments since being released from prison and refused to sign a payment schedule. So, she was taken to court on a probation violation.

Durham officials contracted with Bennett in 1999 to run the federal program, which was designed to encourage small businesses to open in low-income areas. She was fired from her job in 2001.

Authorities said she issued more than $800,000 in loans to nonexistent companies and funneled some of that money into her personal accounts.

Bennett's sister, Kathy Fenner, also was convicted of obtaining property by false pretense and fraudulent conspiracy in the case. She was placed on probation, and officials said she has repaid almost all of the $42,400 in restitution she was ordered to pay.