COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A former Department of Motor Vehicles employee is facing big trouble, charged with embezzlement of public money. Authorities say Wendy Gaskins stole $300,000 in taxpayer money from the DMV to upgrade her home.
We went to Gaskins' house off Cedar Hill Lane in West Columbia to get her side of the story, but no one came to the door. Neighbors didn't want to go on camera either, but say they're shocked by the embezzlement charges.
Some of them wondered how she was able to afford the renovations to her home. One person said Gaskins recently added rooms and fenced in her backyard. Authorities say she also purchased a travel camper with the money.
Investigators say they found that Gaskin's created a fake construction company, then billed the DMV for work. According to an arrest warrant, Gaskins began taking the money in March 2009 and continued to do so through June of this year. The warrant also states that she has provided a written confession.
Gaskins turned herself in Tuesday morning and was released on a $50,000 bond.
"We reported the activity to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and cooperated fully in the investigation," said DMV spokeswoman Beth Parks. "We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and will request an independent auditor to look at all our financial controls and internal support processes to ensure that this does not happen again. No other employees have been implicated in this investigation."
SLED Special Agent Kevin Baker is leading the investigation.
"This company was something that she had used to obtain money from the state for work that was done, that was not actually completed for DMV sites," said Baker.
Gaskins' husband works for the State Transport Police, but he is not being investigated. Investigators say he had no knowledge of the alleged crime.