Grand jury indicts former Berkeley Co. School District chief financial officer

BERKELEY COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - A federal and state grand jury has indicted the former chief financial officer for the Berkeley County School District.

Brantley Thomas faces thirty charges of embezzlement and forgery.

Over several years, Thomas has admitted to embezzling roughly $800,000 of public school money for his own personal use, according to both state and federal indictments.

Thomas has agreed to plead guilty to twenty federal counts of fraud and embezzlement from a federally funded program, money laundering, and honest services wire fraud, according to a federal plea agreement.

Former South Carolina Attorney General Charlie Condon said with the severity of the crimes which stem back over a decade, Thomas could spend a substantial amount of time in federal prison.

"It's really serious charges," Condon said."He's presumed innocent but he's accused basically of stealing money from kids, school kids."

Thomas has signed his name agreeing to plead guilty, and as part of the agreement there are some conditions in place to try and get him to serve less time behind bars.

The agreement states Thomas must testify fully and truthfully, and must disclose and provide truthful information that could be of value to the investigation.

According to the agreement, Thomas has agreed to a polygraph examination and has to pay all of the money back.

At this time, Thomas has paid nearly $250,000 in restitution, and the government has seized $135,000.

"He'll be facing federal penitentiary time," Condon said."Then you go through the same federal guideline scheme. I would think with this amount of money and abuse of trust, the guidelines would cause for a prison sentence."

Condon said the cooperation with the federal grand jury is an effort to lower his sentence.

BCSD officials did release a statement on Thursday saying they were informed by the United States Attorney's Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that Thomas has been charged with several felonies related to the embezzlement scheme.

According to district officials, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson also announced that the South Carolina Grand Jury has issued 15 more indictments for Thomas related to allegations of corruption at BCSD.

"The Attorney General's indictments of Thomas are for additional monies embezzled than what he previously confessed to the FBI in February 2017," BCSD officials said."These additional indictments resulted from the District's continued cooperation with the Attorney General over the past 10 months and the Grand Jury's thorough investigation of District records dating back to the early 2000s. Records indicate that Thomas was indicted for embezzling funds from our children since at least September 11, 2001, while all eyes were focused on the atrocities in New York."

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