BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A state grand jury has issued new indictments against former Berkeley County School District CFO Brantley Thomas related to allegations of corruption at the district and money laundering at a business Thomas was employed for after he was terminated from the district.
On Wednesday, Thomas was indicted on two counts alleging money laundering and breach of trust with fraudulent intent. Those charges are for alleged crimes that happened when he worked as an assistant bookkeeper at an eye care center in Charleston after Thomas was fired by the district.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, sometime between May 23, 2017 and June 26, 2017, Thomas presented his employer with checks totaling $2,657.23 that he said were for payment for legitimate business expenditures.
However, state officials say that those checks were used to pay one of Thomas' personal credit cards.
During the same year, authorities say Thomas converted $998.34 of cash he got from “unlawful activity” into three postal money orders to disguise the source of funds which Thomas used as payment for a vehicle loan in his name.
Thomas was also charged with five new charges of embezzlement and a charge of misconduct in office related to allegations of corruption at the Berkeley County School District.
A state grand jury had previously indicted Thomas on a total of 29 charges, including 27 charges for embezzlement totaling $665,842.98 and two charges of forgery in connection to allegations of corruption at the district.
According to the Attorney General’s Office, two of the new charges allege Thomas directed the financial adviser 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' personal line of credit at Bank of America,” state officials said.
The indictment also alleges that Thomas received duplicate reimbursements from both BCSD and Securing Assets for Education for duplicate “Cost of Issuance” expenses.
Two charges state that Thomas allegedly 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' personal credit card account,” a press release by the Attorney General’s Office stated.
The final charge for misconduct in office 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 $119,604.11.
The Berkeley County School District released the following statement regarding Thomas charges in connection to the district:
“We continue to appreciate the diligence and commitment of the state Attorney General’s Office to make the people of Berkeley County whole. Their relentless pursuit of justice is commendable, and, while we are not surprised to learn of these additional indictments, we realize the tedious legal and investigative work that has been invested into this matter and are thankful for the continued pursuit of justice for the taxpayer. “ Board Chair Sally Wofford