RIDGELAND, SC (Oct. 10, 2019) – A former Jasper County Finance Department employee who embezzled nearly $275,000 in public funds is headed to prison. Denise Smith, 57, of Kennesaw, Ga., pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling nearly $275,000 while working as a financial analyst for Jasper County. She was sentenced to eight years in prison and must repay $274,175 in restitution.
“As a county employee, this defendant violated and abused the public’s trust for her own personal gain,” said Francine Norz of the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, who prosecuted the case. “This was not a one-time thing.”
From 2012 to 2017, fraudulent invoices were created to support payments, which were transferred and withdrawn from a personal bank account. After Smith retired, the county retained her part time to train a replacement. That’s when county officials became aware of discrepancies and were alerted to invoices for a nonexistent landscaping company for work that was never completed.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen handed down Friday’s sentence. Special Agent Blake Johnson with the S.C. Law Enforcement Division assisted with the investigation. Norz has been with the Solicitor’s Office since 2006. She focuses on prosecuting white collar crimes and is a member of the Special Victims Unit, for which she prosecutes financial crimes against vulnerable adults.