A former clerk in Ridgeland's water and sewer department was charged Wednesday with embezzling $118,000 in public funds after a S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation into missing money.
Mandy Drew, 34, is accused of taking water-service payments that she was in charge of collecting. A Ridgeland resident, Drew had worked for the town for 15 years.
She was suspended without pay in early February after a routine, year-end audit indicated money was missing. She no longer works for the town, Ridgeland administrator Jason Taylor said. It is unclear if she was fired or quit.
Taylor said the scheme exploited a loophole in accounting software.
Between April 1, 2009, and Jan. 18, 2011, customer payments were backdated so they would be credited to accounts without showing up on daily reports. As a result, no one lost water or sewer service, daily accounts balanced and the payments were funneled "into someone's pockets who walked out the door with cash," Taylor said.
The auditor who found a discrepancy in deposit dates informed town officials. In turn, they turned the accounting books over to SLED to investigate, according to the release.
The investigation continues, SLED communications director Jennifer Timmons said. Timmons would not comment further on the investigation.
Taylor said the town is insured against the loss and will be reimbursed once the case is resolved.
The town has since closed the accounting loophole.
"It's a bad situation," Taylor said. "We all knew Mandy and we all trusted her, until we had a reason not to."
Mayor Gary Hodges declined to comment.
Drew has since been released on a personal recognizance bond set at $118,000, according to an employee at the Jasper County Detention Center.
Attempts Thursday to reach Drew were unsuccessful.