Former Arab Electric employee sentenced for embezzling nearly $3 million, ordered to pay restitution

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A judge sentenced a former Arab Electric Cooperative employee accused of embezzling almost $3 million dollars from the company Tuesday morning.

John Willis, also known as Jack, went before a judge in federal court in Birmingham Tuesday morning. Online court records indicate the judge sentenced him to two and a half years in prison and three years supervised release with special conditions.

The judge also ordered restitution, with interest waived, due in the amount of almost $3 million, the amount embezzled.

Last year Willis plead not guilty in federal court in Huntsville. Shortly after that he changed that plea to guilty.

He worked as a member services supervisor with the Arab Electric Cooperative. Last March, the Tennessee Valley Authority conducted a routine audit at the utility company. The company also had a software change.

Officials uncovered irregularities that led back to Willis. It's not clear how far back the irregularities uncovered in the audit go.  Willis was put on unpaid leave near the beginning of last year. Several months after that, he was officially no longer working with the company.

Court records show the judge ordered Willis to remain on his pretrial bond conditions and report to prison no later than 3 p.m. on April 18. Willis was released on a $5,000 bond in August after his initial court proceedings.

Online court records show the prosecution made a motion for a lighter sentence. The judge granted it Tuesday morning.