Wednesday, October 28, 2020

New state charges bring total allegedly stolen from Berkeley school district to $1.1M

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The corruption case against former Berkeley County School District Chief Financial Officer Brantley D. Thomas III expanded in scope this week.

The state grand jury issued a new indictment Wednesday, charging Thomas with 14 additional counts: 13 of embezzlement and one new count of forgery.

In all, Thomas faces state three indictments charging him with a total of 29 charges, 27 of embezzlement and two of forgery, the S.C. Attorney General’s Office said in a Friday news release.

The former CFO is alleged to have embezzled about $666,000 from the district, according to the Attorney General’s Office. It brings the amount Thomas is alleged to have stolen from the district to more than $1.1 million when taking both the state and federal cases against him into account.

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Thomas started work at the district in 1993 and oversaw all of its finances, including a $260 million general fund. His $130,500 salary made him one of the district’s highest paid employees.

He was fired Feb. 7, 2017, after district officials learned of a probe into district finances by Wells Fargo and the FBI.

The stolen funds prompted district officials earlier this year to take cost-cutting actions, as well as add checks and balances to a CFO’s control over finances.

In March, officials reported that the district’s fund balance, a sort of rainy day savings account, had decreased by $8.8 million to $43.3 million.

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While Thomas still faces state charges, he pleaded guilty in January in federal court to indictments charging him with one count of fraud and embezzlement from a federally funded program, nine counts of money laundering and 10 counts of “honest services wire fraud,” which involved receiving kickbacks for awarding insurance policy contracts to specific companies.

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