An ex-employee of the South Carolina Hospitality Association is awaiting sentencing after an accounts payable audit revealed approximately $480,000 had been stolen from the company.
According to WSLS-TV, Rachel Duncan, who served as an accountant for the lobbying organization, embezzled the money from her former employer over a six-year period. Prosecutors allege that she used the majority of the funds to feed her gambling addiction. Duncan is accused of taking money from the Hospitality Association's bank accounts by writing unauthorized checks and depositing them into her personal checking account. Investigators also say that she used company funds to pay offshore gambling debts, reports the news source.
Duncan pleaded guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud charges in April, states WLTX-TV. The AP audit was conducted after the association's CEO, Tom Sponseller, committed suicide and left a note saying that Duncan had confessed the illegal activity to him. The investigation found no evidence that Sponseller had received any of the embezzled money. Duncan now faces a fine of $350,000 and a maximum of 23 years in prison.
The Charlotte Observer writes that the association is currently implementing changes to its financial processes in order to avoid any instances of misappropriation in the future. These include conducting a yearly audit to review records and pinpoint any discrepancies, along with requiring all checks from the organization's accounts to be signed by not only an employee, but a set of board members as well. The organization also plans to hold annual meetings to go over financial reports and give members the opportunity to ask questions pertaining to the records.