COLUMBIA — The woman who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the S.C. Hospitality Association may get up to six months knocked off her prison sentence for giving police tips that led to murder and drug arrests in two counties.
Rachel Duncan provided the tips to Richland and Lexington county investigators in August, according to a motion filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Columbia. The tips led to the arrest of two people wanted on murder warrants in Lexington County and five people cooking methamphetamine in an unnamed Richland County hotel, according to court documents.
The prosecutor, Winston Holliday, has asked a federal judge to reduce the 30-month prison sentence that Duncan received in August. She had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and filing a false tax return in connection with her embezzlement from the association while working as its accountant.
Under federal sentencing rules, Duncan would qualify for a sentence ranging from 24 to 30 months, Holliday wrote in his motion. She previously qualified for a range of 30 to 37 months, and U.S. District Judge Joseph Anderson had sentenced her to 30 months.
Duncan, 42, of Lexington has not reported to federal prison.
After the embezzlement became public, the Hospitality Association, which represents the state’s restaurants, hotels and motels, conducted an audit that found nearly $500,000 was missing from its accounts. Attorneys negotiated the reduced restitution of $367,508.
Duncan has been ordered to pay the IRS $85,333 in back taxes.
Duncan declined to comment.
Her defense attorney, Greg Harris, said he is in the process of preparing a motion in support of the prosecutor. He said he will ask the judge for an even larger reduction in her sentence.
“She has been cooperating from Day One,” Harris said.
According to the motion, Duncan contacted Richland County dispatch on Aug. 25 to report a hotel where people were cooking methamphetamine. The next day, she gave information about drug trafficking in Richland County to an investigator.
Her tip was logged as a Crimestoppers call, but her personal information was retained by an investigator, who was aware of her case, the motion stated.
The Lexington County Multi-Agency Narcotics Enforcement Team supervisor is familiar with the claims in the motion but cannot confirm them, said. Maj. John Allard, a Lexington County sheriff’s spokesman
However, Allard would confirm that sheriff’s investigators obtained information about a possible clandestine meth lab while searching for two men who were wanted in connection with the July shooting death of 72-year-old Robert Lewis Mitchell of Gilbert.
Duncan admitted that she stole the Hospitality Association’s money between 2006 and early 2012. She wrote herself checks and made deposits from a credit card terminal to a secret bank account. Duncan transferred the stolen money to offshore accounts so she could place bets at an online casino based in Australia.
Duncan confessed to her boss, Tom Sponseller, in February that she was under investigation for the stolen money. Two days later, he shot himself. Duncan testified that Sponseller had nothing to do with her theft.