Karen Rhett was the bookkeeper at a South Carolina true estate agency for the far better aspect of 25 many years, in accordance to federal court docket documents.
She was also embezzling from it, prosecutors said.
A federal choose sentenced the 59-yr-previous to three many years in prison on Monday, April 4, soon after she pleaded guilty to felony rates last yr. She was also purchased to spend three a long time on supervised launch and pay restitution.
Rhett’s defense lawyer did not promptly respond to McClatchy News’ ask for for remark on April 6. But he said in court filings that she took whole accountability for the theft immediately after the FBI confirmed up at her dwelling in Mount Pleasurable, just outside the house of Charleston, in 2020.
“Painfully, and with deep sorrow, she admits that she took gain of her posture of rely on as a bookkeeper,” stated George Rutledge DuRant, who represented Rhett. “She admits that her theft was enduring and began extensive back with a fairly tiny amount of money of dollars. It escalated with time. The extra she stole, the harder it grew to become to halt.”
In accordance to court paperwork, Rhett labored for Simmons Realty Business, a true estate agency run by David and Elizabeth Simmons.
“It took a few long a long time of cumbersome investigative operate by the spouse and children and a forensic accountant (former IRS Particular Agent) to uncover this innovative and sophisticated fraudulent scheme,” Bart Daniel, who represented the Simmons, told McClatchy News in a statement. “The Simmons Household is relieved that justice has at last been served.”
Prosecutors reported Rhett oversaw the company’s accounting and business enterprise data and was “in a place of trust” when she allegedly began siphoning off income.
She is accused of transferring money to herself, generally going the funds among other enterprise entities before it inevitably landed in her account. Rhett also produced up company invoices for bogus expenses and wrote checks to herself right before recording the payments as reputable, the federal government claimed.
The Simmons at some point fired her, and FBI agents frequented Rhett at property in July 2020, court docket files point out.
According to her legal professional, Rhett confessed to the embezzlement the next month and started cooperating with federal investigators.
“It should really be understood that Karen manufactured the determination to confess entirely on her own and immediately, within one particular week of the F.B.I. knocking upon the door of her household,” her legal professional stated.
Rhett sold the 4,000-square-foot property she shared with her husband and daughter for $982,000 in December 2020, according to genuine estate listings. Her lawyer reported she wrote a look at for restitution totaling $640,633 and submitted it to the courtroom in January 2021.
Rhett was billed by prison info and pleaded guilty to prices of wire fraud and creating fake statements, courtroom files exhibit. Her lawyer reported she was fired from her new task at a holistic diet retailer when information of the guilty plea broke in April 2021.
Rhett subsequently begun a company, Cupcake Bouquets by Karen, by means of which she bakes and sells “delicious and inventive, primarily floral in structure, cupcakes,” her attorney stated.
From August 2021 to February 2022, he stated, she has bought $3,648 worth of cupcakes.
“Karen is certain that Cupcake Bouquets by Karen, LLC would find the money for her the indicates by which she can make significant payments toward full restitution,” her lawyer reported in sentencing files. “In phrases of using on new orders and building this company as it stands now, Karen has been thorough not to just take on way too lots of new orders or to grow also quickly as her imminent long term is, at best, unsure.”
Rhett’s attorney had questioned the decide to sentence her to a interval of residence confinement, pointing in portion to her struggles with melancholy given that the charges came to mild and a current analysis of Fibromyalgia.
He also reported it is important for Rhett to be residence with her 21-calendar year-previous daughter, who has reportedly struggled with her possess mental wellness right after a brief-lived career as a singer-songwriter. In accordance to sentencing documents, her daughter previously sang at “various east coast faculty gymnasiums and efficiency halls with a concept versus bullying” as a teen.
Rhett submitted six letters of help penned by her therapist and different family associates also contacting for leniency.
“Karen has experienced the effects of a self-imposed sentence, shame and guilt ahead of her buddies and family and the total local community,” her attorney explained. “She has endured the loss of virtually her each and every possession and she has suffered the ongoing agony of darkish melancholy. She has been punished seriously now.”
At sentencing, the judge advisable Rhett provide her jail sentence at FPC Alderson in West Virginia so that she can get health-related cure. Once she is introduced, the decide barred her from acquiring any speak to with the victims.
The volume of restitution she owes is outlined as “TBD” in the court docket.
This tale was originally printed April 6, 2022 6:33 PM.