BCSD announces embezzlement & settlement recoveries in excess of $2.2 million

Berkeley County News

MONCKS CORNER, S.C. (WCBD) – The Berkeley County School District announced recoveries in excess of $2.2 million in the wake of the largest public embezzlement in state history. In addition, BCSD also announced plans for some of the reclaimed funds. 

The news release stated that during a briefing from Statewide Grand Jury Chief Creighton Waters on restitution orders received in favor of the school district, the Berkeley County Board of Education approved a settlement of $822,966.47 with Hilltop Securities, Inc. 

Hilltop Securities has never served as a vendor to Berkeley County School District (BCSD) but acquired a firm that served as the district’s financial advisors from 2012 to 2014. The lawsuit, which was filed on March 4, 2019, seeks significant damages against individual financial advisors and bond counsel, as well as their firms. 

According to spokesperson Katie Tanner, BCSD board members immediately agreed that $400,000 of recoveries should and will be granted to the programs convicted former CFO Brantley Thomas damaged the most. 

Plans will be put in motion to utilize $300,000 and improve long-needed special needs accessibility at school playgrounds. The other $100,000 will be used to help construct the Miracle League field at the Moncks Corner Regional Recreation Complex. 

In response to the investment to benefit children with special needs, BCSD Interim Chief Academic Officer and Executive Director of Special Services Dr. Kelly Wulf said, “Playgrounds are an extension of the learning environment essential for social/emotional, physical, and gross/fine motor development that all students should be able to access. Everyone deserves to experience the joy of a swing or the friendships that emerge from playground partners. We appreciate that our Board made the immediate decision tonight to support the needs of our children.” 

BCSD is also set to receive $939,654.94 from the state restitution order, including receiving an assignment of Mr. Thomas’ retirement account. Additionally, the federal court ordered $761,828.80 in restitution paid to the district.

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