Bookkeeper stole $1M from SC business: feds
Karen Rhett was the bookkeeper at a South Carolina real estate company for the superior part of 25 a long time, according to federal court docket paperwork.
She was also embezzling from it, prosecutors stated.
A federal judge sentenced the 59-year-previous to a few years in prison on Monday, April 4, soon after she pleaded guilty to felony expenses final year. She was also ordered to commit a few a long time on supervised launch and pay out restitution.
Rhett’s protection attorney did not immediately reply to McClatchy News’ request for remark on April 6. But he reported in courtroom filings that she took comprehensive accountability for the theft following the FBI showed up at her house in Mount Enjoyable, just exterior of Charleston, in 2020.
“Painfully, and with deep sorrow, she admits that she took benefit of her situation of have confidence in as a bookkeeper,” mentioned George Rutledge DuRant, who represented Rhett. “She admits that her theft was enduring and began very long in the past with a comparatively modest sum of income. It escalated with time. The additional she stole, the more challenging it became to stop.”
According to court files, Rhett worked for Simmons Realty Organization, a real estate agency operate by David and Elizabeth Simmons.
“It took 3 long decades of wearisome investigative perform by the household and a forensic accountant (previous IRS Specific Agent) to uncover this advanced and advanced fraudulent scheme,” Bart Daniel, who represented the Simmons, informed McClatchy News in a statement. “The Simmons Relatives is relieved that justice has eventually been served.”
Prosecutors explained Rhett oversaw the company’s accounting and enterprise data and was “in a position of trust” when she allegedly began siphoning off revenue.
She is accused of transferring funds to herself, usually moving the funds in between other business entities in advance of it ultimately landed in her account. Rhett also made up enterprise invoices for bogus costs and wrote checks to herself before recording the payments as genuine, the govt explained.
The Simmons ultimately fired her, and FBI brokers visited Rhett at residence in July 2020, courtroom paperwork state.
According to her lawyer, Rhett confessed to the embezzlement the subsequent month and began cooperating with federal investigators.
“It should really be recognized that Karen designed the final decision to confess fully on her possess and speedily, within just one particular 7 days of the F.B.I. knocking on the door of her home,” her attorney mentioned.
Rhett marketed the 4,000-sq.-foot dwelling she shared with her husband and daughter for $982,000 in December 2020, in accordance to real estate listings. Her attorney mentioned she wrote a check out for restitution totaling $640,633 and submitted it to the court docket in January 2021.
Rhett was charged by legal data and pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and earning false statements, court files exhibit. Her attorney said she was fired from her new task at a holistic diet store when news of the responsible plea broke in April 2021.
Rhett subsequently began a company, Cupcake Bouquets by Karen, by way of which she bakes and sells “delicious and creative, generally floral in design, cupcakes,” her attorney explained.
From August 2021 to February 2022, he said, she has sold $3,648 well worth of cupcakes.
“Karen is persuaded that Cupcake Bouquets by Karen, LLC would manage her the indicates by which she can make significant payments towards whole restitution,” her legal professional said in sentencing documents. “In phrases of taking on new orders and developing this company as it stands now, Karen has been mindful not to consider on much too a lot of new orders or to increase way too immediately as her imminent foreseeable future is, at ideal, uncertain.”
Rhett’s lawyer had asked the decide to sentence her to a interval of household confinement, pointing in element to her struggles with melancholy considering the fact that the prices arrived to gentle and a recent prognosis of Fibromyalgia.
He also stated it is important for Rhett to be property with her 21-calendar year-outdated daughter, who has reportedly struggled with her possess mental health right after a limited-lived vocation as a singer-songwriter. In accordance to sentencing files, her daughter beforehand sang at “various east coast faculty gymnasiums and efficiency halls with a information in opposition to bullying” as a teenager.
Rhett submitted 6 letters of help penned by her therapist and several spouse and children members also calling for leniency.
“Karen has experienced the repercussions of a self-imposed sentence, disgrace and guilt before her friends and loved ones and the entire neighborhood,” her law firm mentioned. “She has endured the loss of pretty much her every possession and she has endured the continuous agony of darkish despair. She has been punished severely by now.”
At sentencing, the decide encouraged Rhett provide her prison sentence at FPC Alderson in West Virginia so that she can obtain medical treatment. After she is launched, the decide barred her from owning any get hold of with the victims.
The quantity of restitution she owes is mentioned as “TBD” in the courtroom docket.
This story was originally published April 6, 2022 6:33 PM.