COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - Acting United States Attorney Kevin F. McDonald said Monday that Sheria Devette English, 25, of Columbia, pleaded guilty to theft of federal program funds for her role in an alleged scheme to embezzle more than $5.2 million dollars from DSS.
She admitted to cashing three DSS checks that were procured by fraud.
Paul Timothy Moore was indicted in February 2009 for allegedly using his position as the DSS Finance Director to authorize the issuance of hundreds of DSS checks between May 2004 and October 2008, in the approximate average amount of $7,000.00 each.
The checks were made payable to names allegedly provided by a co-conspirator who also recruited the named individuals to cash the checks and split the proceeds.
Moore pleaded guilty on October 29, 2009 to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud and theft of government property and one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, for his scheme to embezzle $5.2 million dollars from DSS.
Moore is currently awaiting sentencing.
Initially, Moore found people willing to cash these checks and to then return a portion of the money to him. He also began giving checks to people with whom he had already established relationships.
Eventually, the checks were made payable to names provided by a co-conspirator, Jonathon Moses, 42, of Columbia, who recruited several others to cash the checks and split the proceeds.
On September 9, 2009, Jonathan Moses was sentenced to 96 months of imprisonment.
To date, 60 people have been charged in this scheme.
McDonald said he expects additional arrests because it appears that more than 350 people may have been involved. "I would encourage anyone with information to contact the Secret Service here in Columbia. I would also strongly encourage anyone who is involved to come forward; it would certainly be in their best interest," he said.
The maximum possible penalty for theft of government property is ten years and a fine of $250,000.
"Stealing money from DSS that could have been used to help the needy and underprivileged is reprehensible. These guilty pleas affirm our office's commitment to prosecute those who illegally line their pockets with public dollars. We are committed to vigorously prosecuting each and every individual involved in any respect in this scheme," said McDonald.
McDonald said the case is being investigated by agents of the United States Secret Service and SLED.