RELEASE: State Grand Jury Issues Indictment #4 Alleging Public Corruption by former Chief Financial Officer of the Berkeley County School District

Posted by on November 15, 2018 4:39 pm
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(COLUMBIA, SC) – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today that the South Carolina State Grand Jury has again issued a new indictment related to allegations of corruption at the Berkeley County School District [BCSD].

On November 14, 2018, the State Grand Jury charged Brantley D. Thomas, III with six additional charges related to public corruption. The State Grand Jury charged Brantley D. Thomas, III, 62, [THOMAS] who was the long-time lead financial officer for BCSD. These new indictments encompass five new charges for embezzlement and one new charge of misconduct in office.  Previously, in June of 2018, October of 2017 and November of 2017, the State Grand Jury issued three indictments charging Mr. Thomas with a total of 29 charges, including 27 charges for embezzlement totaling approximately $665,842.98 and two charges of forgery.  A table reflecting the charges from all four public corruption indictments is below.

New Public Corruption State Grand Jury charges from November 14, 2018:

Embezzlement charges #30 and #31 allege that Thomas directed the Financial Advisor for the BCSD’s investment account to make payments to “Bank of America” supposedly for legitimate “lease” expenses. These disbursements instead were converted to personal use for payment to THOMAS’s personal line of credit at Bank of America.

Embezzlement charge #32 alleges that THOMAS received duplicate reimbursements from both BCSD and Securing Assets for Education [SAFE] for duplicate “Cost of Issuance” expenses allegedly incurred.

Embezzlement charges #33 and #34 allege that THOMAS converted public school funds to his personal use, by causing BCSD to disperse funds which supposedly were to pay legitimate BCSD expenses. These disbursements instead were converted to personal use for payment to THOMAS’s personal credit card account.

Charge #35 is for misconduct in office and alleges that THOMAS committed acts and omissions in breach of his duties as a Financial Officer and his duties as a public official of good faith, honesty, and accountability – thus receiving $1,522,591.42 in compensation paid to him during the time period while he willfully and dishonestly failed to properly and faithfully discharge his duty to manage the finances of Berkeley County School District.

The total amount alleged to have been embezzled in this new indictment is approximately $119,604.11.

Prior State Grand Jury Charges from June 2018, October 2017 and November 2017:

Embezzlement charges #1 and #2 allege that THOMAS, caused public school funds to be wired from a BCSD account directly into a personal bank account belonging to THOMAS and another individual, whereby the funds were then converted to personal use.

Embezzlement charges #3, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10, #12, #13, #15, #19, #21, #22, #23, #24, #25, #26, #27, #28, and #29 allege that THOMAS converted public school funds to his personal use, by causing BCSD to disperse funds which supposedly were to pay legitimate BCSD expenses. These disbursements instead were converted to personal use for payment to THOMAS’s personal credit card account or into THOMAS’s personal checking account.

Embezzlement charges #16, #17, and #18 allege that Thomas directed a trustee for the BCSD’s bond issuer [SAFE] to make payments to “Wachovia Bank” supposedly to reimburse BCSD for legitimate “Cost of Issuance” expenses. These disbursements instead were converted to personal use for payment to a personal line of credit at Wachovia Bank that Thomas shared with another individual.

The forgery charges #4 and #20 allege that THOMAS forged invoices so they appeared to be from a legitimate BCSD vendor but with the payment address altered to be the servicer of THOMAS’s personal credit card account. THOMAS thus caused the BCSD to make a payment from public school funds for THOMAS’s personal credit card [see charge #3 and #19].

Embezzlement charge #11 alleges that THOMAS converted public school funds to his personal use, by personally visiting a local bank branch and executing a counter withdrawal on a BCSD account supposedly to pay an “Additional Architect Fee” for Cane Bay Middle School. Instead he used that $98,349 to pay down his own personal credit card.

Embezzlement charge #14 alleges that THOMAS converted BCSD funds to his personal use, by deliberately causing BCSD to overpay a vendor and then directing the vendor to refund that overpayment to his home address whereby he converted those funds to personal use. The amount alleged to have been embezzled in the prior indictments is approximately $665,842.98.

The grand total for the four South Carolina State Grand Jury embezzlement allegations against Mr. Thomas is approximately $785,447.09.

The case will be prosecuted by State Grand Jury Section Chief Attorney General S. Creighton Waters and Senior Assistant Attorney General Brian Petrano.

Attorney General Wilson stressed that all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

You can see the indictment here.

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