A federal grand jury has handed down a 21-count indictment against two Lowcountry hotel workers, charging them with wire fraud and conspiracy, the U.S. attorney’s office in Columbia said.
Star Barkley, 39, of Ladson, and Audrina Lincoln, 30, of Charleston, are facing federal charges after an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service and the Charleston Police Department, said M. Rhett DeHart, acting U.S. Attorney for the District of S.C.
DeHart said the pair are accused of stealing at least $153,000 between September 2017 to June 2019 while employed at the Days Inn on Meeting Street in Charleston. If convicted, each could get up to 20 years in federal prison.
The indictment said Barkley and Lincoln conspired to commit fraud and obtain money by false pretenses, sometimes as long as four months after a guest had checked out of the hotel, by re-opening accounts that had zero balances.
The indictment said Barkley and Lincoln would adjust guest account balances, which would end up showing a credit to the account. The two are accused of then refunding the credit balances to themselves, using debit cards and bank accounts they controlled or by using a third-party who would transfer money back to them.
Barkley and Lincoln also are accused of making fake guest complaints and providing other false information to the hotel database to account for changes to the guest balances.
The U.S. attorney’s office emphasized that the two are presumed innocent until proven guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorney Allessandra E. Stewart is handling the prosecution.