Case against suspected DMV embezzler goes federal

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Prosecutors dropped state embezzlement charges in early March against a woman accused of stealing more than $300,000 in public funds and turned the case turned over to the US Attorney's office in Columbia.

State Law Enforcement Division agents arrested Wendy R. Gaskin in September, 2010 after more than $300,000 in public funds went missing from a Department of Motor Vehicle's bank account that Gaskins had signatory power over, according to the DMV. Authorities said Gaskins stole the taxpayer money to upgrade her home and purchased a travel camper with the money.

Gaskins created a fake construction company, then billed the DMV for work, according to SLED. According to an arrest warrant, Gaskins began taking the money in March 2009 and continued to do so through June 2010. The warrant also states that she has provided a written confession.

The 5th Circuit Solicitor's office started prosecuting the case following Gaskins' arrest in September and a state grand jury indicted Gaskins in October after state prosecutors presented their evidence.

Federal prosecutors are preparing Gaskins' case to present to a federal grand jury that will meet sometime within the next several months in Columbia. The US Attorney's office will not comment on the case or when the grand jury will convene. 

"We reported the activity to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and cooperated fully in the investigation," DMV spokeswoman Beth Parks told WIS in September. "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."

SLED Special Agent Kevin Baker was leading the state investigation for SLED, "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 said he had no knowledge of the crime.

The US Attorney's office got the case in early March, but would not say when an indictment may be made public or why they took over the case.

Gaskins was released on a $50,000 bond following her arrest.

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