Former Kiawah Island officials plead not guilty in wire fraud case

KIAWAH ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - Two former Kiawah Island officials plan to fight the charges against them.

Harrison Kenneth Gunnells, 59, and Tumiko Rucker, 42, have both pled not guilty to alleged wire fraud and misuse of town funds according to court records.

A grand jury indicted the pair in mid-November. Rucker was the town administrator, the highest ranking town employee,  and reported to the mayor. Gunnells was the town treasurer according to court documents.

The indictment says Rucker and Gunnells allegedly paid themselves excess salary that was not authorized by the mayor, the town, or the town council. It alleges that during the conspiracy, the suspects received 16 additional monthly paychecks. The indictment also states they gave themselves unauthorized payroll advances and used town credit cards for personal reasons without reimbursing the town.

If convicted, they could face 20 years behind bars, or a fine of $250,000.

"The Town is grateful to the U.S. Attorney's Office for their thorough handling of this matter and looks forward to a resolution that provides closure for our residents and staff," Mayor Craig Weaver said."Town officials and staff, past and present, have cooperated at every step of the investigation, including providing background information and financial records which support the Town's contention of misconduct. The Town will continue to cooperate with the authorities as this case proceeds through the criminal court process."

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