White Collar Crime is Alive and Well in South Carolina – 1st Week of February Results!

From February 1st thru February 6th there were four folks who were sentenced, indicted or convicted of white collar crime in South Carolina.

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Atlanta Man Sentenced: Charles Mahaffey, age 41, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to 40 months imprisonment for conspiracy to pass counterfeit traveler’s checks. Mahaffey was arrested in a drugstore parking lot after passing several counterfeit Visa $100 traveler’s checks at various Florence businesses. Recovered from his car were 11 additional counterfeit traveler’s checks, each bearing the same serial number. Federal investigators have since discovered that an additional 122 identical checks were successfully passed in 11 states just prior to Mahaffey’s arrest.

Guess here, but since other frauds have been discovered, my educated guess is that Mahaffey will be facing more time.

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Florence, SC Woman Sentenced: Susan Celeste Edwards, age 33, of Florence, South Carolina, was sentenced to 31 months in federal prison for using company credit cards to steal from her employer, Carolinas Refrigeration of Florence. Now…that is bad – but not that unusual. Here’s where the story takes a twist. This wasn’t her first time in prison!
Carolinas Refrigeration hired Edwards as a bookkeeper, unaware of her recent release from federal prison for embezzling from Advance America from 2000-2002. While working in the employee benefits section of that company, Edwards stole more than $243,000.00 from that scheme in which she filed insurance claims for fictitious employees, collecting insurance
payments which she spent for herself. Edwards served 37 months on that conviction.
Edwards admitted in court that from February 2006 to August 2006, she stole company funds and used her employer’s credit cards to make purchases for her personal use. By the time her thefts were detected, she had embezzled approximately $150,000.00.

So much for a background check! While not all people who have committed white collar crime will repeat that offense, it clearly illustrates some simple truths – use internal controls to avoid the likelyhood of abuse.

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Easley, SC Man Guilty: Charles E. Atwell, age 57, of Easley, was found guilty by a jury yesterday in federal court in Anderson of four counts of tax evasion and one count of making false statements in a bankruptcy petition.

Evidence presented at trial revealed that from 2000 to 2003, Atwell made
more than $2,000,000.00 in commissions as a financial planner selling insurance policies, annuities, and mutual funds. Atwell did not file tax returns or pay any income taxes during any of these years. In fact, evidence at the trial revealed that Atwell had not filed personal tax returns since 1995, and that the only tax returns attributed to Atwell during this period were bogus documents he presented when applying for loans. The evidence also showed that Atwell used bank accounts of several entities that he controlled, such as Professional Planning Inc., of Greenville, T and E Associates, and the Atwell Family Trust, to divert income for his personal use.

Evidence was also introduced that Atwell signed and filed a bankruptcy
petition claiming that his income in 2001 was only approximately $17,000.00 dollars, when in fact it was approximately $800,000.00. The petition further stated that his 2002 income was approximately $41,000.00, when in fact it was approximately $400,000.00.

Unlike the Wesley Snipes trial, Atwell could not claim he didn’t know the rules or law. Perhaps an actor could be that ignorant of the law, but a financial planner earning that amount couldn’t claim ignorance as an excuse!

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Chester, SC Woman indicted: Michelle Waters Dawkins, age 37, of Chester, South Carolina, was indicted for embezzling money from First Citizens Bank. The Indictment alleges that while employed at First Citizens between January and June 2007, Dawkins stole more than $1,000 from the bank. Get this…the maximum penalty Michelle Dawkins could receive is a fine of $1 million and imprisonment for 30 years.

Comments: As a business ethics and white collar crime speaker, (www.chuckgallagher.com) I see the effects of choices that are made. Generally when frauds like those mentioned above are effected there are three components: (1) need; (2) opportunity and (3) rationalization. Regardless of what motivates white collar crime, the outcome is always a negative consequence. Every choice has a consequence.

Your comments are welcome!

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4 Responses to White Collar Crime is Alive and Well in South Carolina – 1st Week of February Results!

  1. casey miller says:

    MR CHUCK NEEDS TO GET HIS FACTS STRAIGHT WHEN IT COMES TO CASES!!!! IN THE CASE AGAINST SUSAN EDWARDS SHE DID NOT EMBEZZLE FUNDS FROM HER COMPANY THAT SHE OWNED HER CO-PARTNER DID BUT THE BASTARD DIED BEFORE THEY COULD CONVICT HIM. IF HE’D DONE HIS HOMEWORK AND DONE REAL INVESTIGATION ON THE MATTER HE WOULD’VE KNOWN INSTEAD OF READING SOMEONE’S ELSES WRITING AND REPORT. SHE ALSO DID NOT SERVE 37 MONTHS ON A PROIR CONVICTION. I SHOULD KNOW I’M HER HUSBAND.BUT THEN AGAIN THE MEDIA AND SO-CALLED “SPEAKERS” ONLY WRITE WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO KNOW OR TO MAKE THEMSELVES SEEM RIGHT ALL THE TIME HUH?

  2. Casey Miller…if what I’ve reported is incorrect I appreciate the correction you provided. Since the information came from public sources such as the US Attorney’s News Releases…perhaps you can set the record straight.

    Did your wife serve time for inappropriate use of company credit cards?

    Did she have a previous conviction for some form of insurance fraud?

    I speak on business ethics and report on white collar crime. Having been there myself (federal prison that is) I do have a desire to get the facts right. So help the readers here please.

    Chuck

  3. Susan P. says:

    Mr. Miller may want to do a background check on his wife b/c she did serve 37 months for the prior conviction and that wasn’t even her first conviction either.

  4. Christie H says:

    why didn’t michelle dawkins go to jail? her child still goes to private school that is very expensive. How can she afford this?

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