Suspect in Grand Reserve fraud case is suing Wells Fargo


It isn't always easy to tell if your personal information has been stolen for fraudulent purposes or your accounts have been compromised. Here are some common signs that you might be a victim of identity theft. Nicole L. Cvetnic McClatchy

Dorita Lynn Clay, one of two women accused of defrauding the owner of Columbus’ Grand Reserve out of more than $600,000, is suing her Wells Fargo bank for showing investigators her financial records.

Also the suspect formerly known as Dorita Lynn West has a record of financial crimes in her hometown of Selma, Ala., the district attorney there in Dallas County has confirmed

Clay in federal court faces wire fraud charges with Darlene Corbett of Phenix City, stepmother of Grand Reserve owner Steve Corbett. Clay and Darlene Corbett are named in a 23-count federal indictment alleging that Darlene Corbett, who from 2009 to September 2016 served as the Grand Reserve company’s chief financial officer, diverted $607,365 from the business to Clay.

Dorita-ClayThe 22 transactions occurred between April 30, 2015, and Sept. 21, 2016, and ranged from $6,465 to $27,600, averaging $27,600, according to the indictment.

Clay and Darlene Corbett were arraigned last week in federal court in Columbus.

The lawsuit
Montgomery, Ala., attorney Julian McPhillips Jr. is representing Clay in the lawsuit, filed Aug. 2 in Dallas County Circuit Court.

It accuses the bank and its Selma branch manager of repeatedly disclosing Clay’s private financial information to a federal agent between Feb. 2 and March 16 of this year. Clay opened the account on Jan. 22, 2016, the lawsuit says.

It says Clay learned “from a third party’s mother” this past June 13 that the information had been released. It afterward was disseminated to eight or 10 people, causing Clay to feel “mortified, devastated, humiliated, and embarrassed,” and depicting her as “wrongfully or illicitly receiving money from a third party, to her detriment and damage,” the suit says.

The suit accuses the bank of invading Clay’s privacy and breaching its fiduciary duty, and seeks both compensatory and punitive damages.

McPhillips said bank attorneys had the lawsuit shifted to federal court, but he has filed to have it moved back.

According to the Selma Times Journal, Clay and McPhillips held a news conference on the lawsuit Aug. 9, when Clay told reporters the FBI was investigating a friend accused of embezzlement.

“I loaned this lady a whole lot of money,” the newspaper quoted Clay saying. “I’m not talking about a couple thousand dollars. I’m talking about some money. When she paid me back … they thought she embezzled the money.”

Past record

The Times Journal reported that Clay, then Dorita West, was charged in 2013 with multiple counts of theft. She was sentenced to jail in 2014 after pleading guilty, it said.

Dallas County District Attorney Michael Jackson confirmed the Dorita West named in the newspaper reports is the Dorita Clay now facing federal charges. Among the accusations was that she cashed $4,000 in fraudulent checks at a Selma bank.

According to the Times Journal, Clay during the Aug. 9 news conference said: “I got into gambling and made some bad decisions with gambling. I spent one year in the Dallas County Jail.”

McPhillips said his client has served her time for those previous offenses, which have nothing to do with the current allegations. All she did before was cash some checks for which she had insufficient funds, he said.

“That’s all been resolved,” McPhillips said. As for Times Journal reports that Clay has tried to defraud other women in Selma, he said, “There was nothing to that. It was a big misunderstanding.”

He alleged federal agents were pressing the wire fraud case in retaliation for the lawsuit.

Clay otherwise has had no trouble with the law for five or six years, he said: “She’s a good lady.”

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