A Mount Pleasant, South Carolina bookkeeper was recently sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to federal charges for embezzling over $1 million from a Charleston real estate company, according to a press release the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina.
Karen Rhett, 58, pleaded guilty to last April to wire fraud and false statements on tax documents.
Recently, U.S. District Judge David C. Norton sentenced Rhett to three years in federal prison, followed by a three years of court-ordered supervision, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Rhett started working as a bookkeeper for Simmons Realty in Charleston, South Carolina in the 1990s, according to evidence presented in court. She was in charge of all of the finances, payroll and taxes for the real estate company over the course of several decades.
While she was in charge of the books, the Mount Pleasant woman “engaged in a complex embezzlement scheme – starting by falsifying the business ledgers to move money to her personal accounts and evolving into augmenting her salary, stealing directly from other employee’s paychecks, and stealing from the other Simmons Realty related entities,” the news release said.
When Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) investigated Rhett’s financial records, they found that she stole more than $1 million from Simmons Realty Company.
While looking through Rhett’s computer, federal agents found detailed spreadsheets that recorded the amount of money she was stealing, where the money came from, and how she stole it.
On top of the embezzlement scheme, Rhett also failed to pay more than $380,000 in income taxes.
She was charged with federal crimes in January 2021 and signed a plea agreement last April. She also will forfeit over $640,000.
She faced up to 20 years in federal prison on the charges.
The FBI and IRS investigated the case, which was prosecuted by assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse.
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