FORT WALTON BEACH — A former finance director for the city of Fort Walton Beach has pleaded no contest to fraud charges involving personal use of public funds, according to a news release from the State Attorney’s Office.
Brandy Ferris, pleaded no contest Jan. 11 to felony charges of organized fraud and money laundering, the release said. She will sentenced by Okaloosa County Circuit Judge William Stone on Aug. 19.
From May 2019 to February 2020, Ferris made more than $50,000 in personal charges on an unauthorized and “off the books” credit card account in the name of the city of Fort Walton Beach, the release said. To avoid detection, she then paid down the balance with more than $20,000 in funds from a separate city account.
Upon discovery, she was immediately terminated and arrested, the release said.
At the time of her arrest in February 2020, City Manager Michael Beedie said he ordered an independent audit of all city finances and a review of policies and procedures to prevent similar transgressions in the future.
The case was investigated by the Fort Walton Beach Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant State Attorney Thomas Williams.