FORT WALTON BEACH — Former Fort Walton Beach Finance Director Brandy Ferris will serve more than four years in prison for stealing from the city. 

Okaloosa County Circuit Judge William Stone sentenced Ferris on Tuesday to 55.5 months behind bars. She had pleaded no contest in January to fraud and money laundering charges.

Plea deal:Former FWB city finance director pleads no contest to fraud, money laundering

A report filed following her Feb. 14, 2020, arrest states that Ferris, a city employee for nearly 15 years, used her position to open an “off the books” corporate American Express account that she used between May 2019 and the date she was taken into custody to ring up more than $50,000 in personal charges.

A news release issued with the arrest said Ferris attempted to avoid being caught by paying down the balance of the corporate account with more than $20,000 in funds from a separate city account. 

The arrest:FWB finance director arrested, faces fraud charges

Ferris admitted she opened the account to make unauthorized purchases and that she used city funds to pay down the balance, according to her arrest report.

Documents filed with the court prior to the sentencing show Ferris was facing a maximum sentence of up to 60 years. The State Attorney’s Office dropped a charge of racketeering, which alleges the operation of a criminal enterprise, as a condition of Ferris accepting the plea agreement.

By Anisa