Arrest Made in Lottery Theft; $200,000 Taken

7:56 PM, Nov 27, 2012   |    comments
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Anthony McNeil

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - An arrest has been made in connection with the theft of over $200,000 from the South Carolina Education Lottery.

Lottery Director Paula Harper Bethea says Anthony McNeil, a former accountant, was arrested Tuesday.

Bethea says McNeil embezzled the money over a period of two years, from April of 2010 to August of 2012.

State Law Enforcement Dvision agents say McNeil was in charge of collecting payments owed to the lottery. An affidavit states that in that role, McNeil altered invoices to retail partners.

According to agents, by manipulating that data, McNeil overcharged some retailers and didn't collect any money  from a targeted, select few stores. Agents say the overcharging covered the amount of money that wasn't collected from the targeted stores.

The affidavit goes on to say that McNeil then contacted the stores where no money had been collected and told them to deposit funds into an account he controlled. In all, agents believe $226,439.07 was put into that account.

Bethea had announced late last month that an employee had been fired from his job after discrepancies were found. The money was later returned.

Bethea said before that the affected money was on the finance side, and did not involve the games.

"All SCEL games, players and prizes were at all times protected," Bethea said in a statement. "Although the tightest internal controls were in place, McNeil was intent and found a way to circumvent the procedures.  Because of this incident even more stringent additional monitoring procedures are now in place."

Bethea says she was first alerted about possible discrepancies on October 1. On October 5, an internal auditor, SLED and the chairman of the Lottery Commission were told of the issues.

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