Former SC Water & Sewer Dept Worker Receives Max Sentence after White Collar Criminal Charges
On Wednesday, December 12th, a jury in Jasper County, SC found a former Water & Sewer Department worker guilty of embezzlement. The white collar criminal charges led to the maximum sentence – 10 years in prison, and repayment of the stolen $118,000 to the town.
Mandy Drew, a 36-year-old former clerk for Ridgeland’s water and sewer department, embezzled $118,036 over two years, using a loop-hole in the accounting software.
Assistant 14th Circuit Court Solicitor Francine Norz argued that Drew should receive the maximum possible sentence required of the white collar criminal charges, while Drew’s attorney, Don Colongeli, argued that the woman should receive leniency because of her love for her family, especially her two children. However, Drew and her attorney offered no motive for the embezzlement during the trial.
14th Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen sentenced the former government worker based on the extent of her white collar criminal charges. “It was a repeated choice,” the judge argued. “It was not a one-time or couple-of-time offense or one poor decision made one day. It was a repeated bad decision.”
White Collar Crime Charges After Years of Embezzlement
Norz, who leads the white collar crime division of the Solicitor’s Office, said that between April 1, 2009, and January 18th, 2011, Drew exploited a loop-hole in the accounting software. Customer payments were backdated, so they would not show up on daily reports, but the payments would be credited to accounts. None of the customers lost power or water services during the two years, and the daily accounts balanced; however, the payments went to Drew, not to the company.
After a routine, year-end audit in February 2011 showed that money was missing, Drew was suspended without pay. She received white collar criminal charges the next month after SLED investigators uncovered her embezzlement, as well as the loop-hole in the accounting software.
Norz said that Ridgeland is ensured against the loss, minus a $1,000 deductible. As part of her sentence, Drew will be responsible for repaying the $118,036 to the town. She will serve 5 years in prison, and another 5 on probation.
Meanwhile, Ridgeland officials have agreed to adopt the auditors’ safety recommendations. “They have adopted the auditor’s recommendations so that no one employee has this much control over both the collection and deposit (of water-service payments), and also run more frequent reports to verify what is posted to the computer on a daily basis … is consistent with year-end numbers,” she said.
The Strom Law Firm Can Help With White Collar Criminal Charges
If you have received white collar criminal charges, you could lose your job, and your reputation. White collar criminal charges, including embezzlement of public funds, are serious crimes with serious consequences. The criminal defense attorneys at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. include a former United States Attorney, a former public defender, a former Assistant Attorney General and Richland County Assistant Solicitor, as well as a tax lawyer familiar with IRS criminal investigations. The Strom Law Firm aggressively defends individuals on all criminal charges in all State and Federal Courts in South Carolina as well as the Federal Courts in Georgia. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so do not hesitate to contact us. 803.252.4800.