Former accountant charged with embezzling $226k in lottery funds

Anthony McNeil (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center)
Anthony McNeil (Source: Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center)

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - A former accountant with the South Carolina Education Lottery accused of embezzling funds was arrested by State Enforcement Law Division officers on Tuesday.

SCEL Executive Director Paula Harper Bethea said SLED investigators have determined Anthony McNeill embezzled over $200,000 from the state lottery over a period of about two years.

Bethea said McNeill was fired on Oct. 10 after an accounting discrepancy was discovered.

According to an arrest warrant, McNeil was in charge of collecting payments owed to the SCEL. Investigators said McNeil, between April 17, 2010 and August 11, 2012, manually manipulated invoices in the SCEL computer system causing funds not to be collected from certain retailers, while other retailers were overcharged.

The money collected from the overcharged retailers, according to the warrant, was used to cover the expenses of the retailers not charged. McNeil then contacted those retailers to tell them a system error caused their payments not to be collected, the warrant states.

McNeil ultimately instructed those retailers to deposit funds totaling $226,439.07 into an account that he controlled, according to investigators

Ms. Bethea stated that "All SCEL games, players and prizes were at all times protected. Although the tightest internal controls were in place, McNeil was intent and found a way to circumvent the procedures. Because of this incident even more stringent additional monitoring procedures are now in place."

"The people of South Carolina and our lottery players can know that at no time was the integrity or the security of the central gaming system or any of our games affected," Ms. Bethea added. "Once we identified what occurred, we immediately began an internal investigation with our Internal Auditor. Within 8 hours this matter was turned over to SLED for a full investigation. We will prosecute to the full extent of the law, and we will seek restitution."

McNeill is charged with embezzlement.  If found guilty, he will face up to 10 years in prison and a fine to be determined by a judge.

Copyright 2012 WCSC.  All rights reserved. WIS contributed to this report.