41-year-old Rachel Duncan, former accountant of the South Carolina Hospitality Association who stands accused of embezzling almost half a million dollars to feed an online gambling habit pleaded guilty to the charges before U.S. District Judge Joe Anderson this week, and is to be sentenced later this year.
A deeply contrite Duncan was released on a bond of $25,000.
Her sentence on one count of federal tax evasion and one count of wire fraud may be lighter than expected, following evidence that she is cooperating with federal authorities in an online gambling investigation.
Duncan faces a maximum of 23 years in prison and $350,000 in fines but will qualify for a reduced sentence because she is cooperating with federal authorities who are investigating online gambling operations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday told the court Wednesday.
Authorities are using Duncan’s specialised personal knowledge of illegal online gambling in other investigations, Holliday revealed.
Duncan’s plundering of the Association’s funds led to the death by suicide of her embarrassed boss, Tom Sponseller in February this year .
Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday explained to the court that the relationship between the two may have been deeper, and he revealed that investigators found photos of Duncan “that were of a sexual nature” on Sponseller’s office computer.
Duncan has denied this and said she did not know how the photos came to be on her boss’s work computer, although she admitted they were close friends and confidantes.