Former bookkeeper sentenced to 36 months in prison for decades-long theft from Charleston real estate company


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Date: April 5, 2022


CHARLESTON — Karen Rhett, of Mt. Pleasant, was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and false statements on tax documents. Rhett formerly served as the bookkeeper for Simmons Realty Company ("SRC") and related business entities.

Evidence presented to the Court showed that over two and a half decades, Rhett stole more than a million dollars from the Simmons' business entities. As the bookkeeper, Rhett was in a position of trust to maintain accounting and business records. Rhett devised a complex scheme to defraud the businesses through various means, including by embezzling funds through unrecorded general ledger deposits that she would transfer to herself. As part of the scheme, Rhett often transferred funds between the related business entities before transferring the funds to herself. Rhett also created false business expenses through fabricated invoices then wrote checks to herself for the same amount, recording the payments as legitimate business expenses.

United States 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 Internal Revenue Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Emily Limehouse prosecuted the case.