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Former bookkeeper sentenced to prison for decades-long theft

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The former bookkeeper for Charleston's Simmons Realty Company and its related business entities has been sentenced to 36 months in federal prison.  

Karen Rhett, 59, of Mount Pleasant, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and false statements on tax documents, according to a statement released by the U.S. Attorney’s office District of South Carolina

Evidence showed that Rhett stole more than a million dollars from the Simmons’ business entities over the course of two-and-a-half decades.  

As bookkeeper, Rhett was responsible for maintaining accounting and business records. However, she defrauded the business through various schemes, including embezzling funds through unrecorded general ledger deposits that she would transfer between the related business entities before sending them to herself. 

She also created false business expenses through fabricated invoices before writing a check to herself for the same amount, recording the payments as legitimate business expenses. 

U.S. District Judge David C. Norton sentenced Rhett to 36 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision. This sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service. Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuted the case. 


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