The Transylvania Times -

Ex-Tax Chief Gets Prison Term

 

May 7, 2018



Annette Raines, the county’s former tax administrator, was sentenced in court to five and 15 months in prison Thursday after pleading guilty to embezzling up to $93,000 from the Transylvania County Rescue Squad between 2009 to 2016.

Judge Mark Powell sentenced Raines, who will be eligible for parole after five months.

During the time the money was embezzled, Raines was the rescue squad’s treasurer.

In court Thursday, Assistant District Attorney Beth Dierauf said the rescue squad believes the extent of fraud could be greater than what the audit, the indictment and what the State Bureau of Investigation agents were able to substantiate.

“From what I can see in the file, Mrs. Raines has paid back the rescue squad $5,000 directly to them. That amount may be more, but I don’t know,” Dierauf said.

Dierauf said Raines had previously explained to Dale Whitlock, the squad’s current chief, and Brian Kreigsman, the former chief, her reasons for taking the money.

Raines told them she had gotten down because her husband lost his job and that her daughter had become sick.

Dierauf added that Kreigsman had filed an insurance claim on the behalf of the rescue squad for a sworn statement of loss for $93,178, and that the squad was reimbursed for $75,000.

After parole, Raines will have to pay restitution in the amount of $13,218.

Kreigsman, who now works for Allied Universal Security Services, said the squad was impacted by the Raines’ actions with a drop in donations and funding.

“The majority of the funding we get is from Transylvania County,” Kreigsman said. “We receive quarterly checks from the county out of their general fund, and then we rely on private donations from citizens. And when the news broke, we saw a drastic reduction in private donations, and the county also withheld our funding, which is $200,000, because we had not submitted an audit to them.”

It was brought to their attention, Kreigsman said, that the county had not received an audit, though, he said, Raines had told the squad that she had given the county an audit.

“She even produced one that was later determined to be counterfeit and forged, so the county withheld funding, saying we were in violation of the contract because we were supposed to provide audits,” he said. “We ended up having four quarterly checks withheld.”

According to the squad’s management, it discovered in April of 2016 that Raines was taking unauthorized ATM withdrawals from the squad’s bank account for her own use.

In June of 2016, Assistant Special Agent Tom Ammons, with the SBI’s Western District Office, said Raines was the person of interest in an active investigation involving the embezzlement of funds from the rescue squad.

Before news of the investigation was released, Raines resigned as tax administrator.

When the investigation was made public, in a probable cause affidavit used to obtain a search warrant, Raines admitted to rescue squad officials, and to Ammons, that she wrote checks to herself from either the squad’s checking account or employee account over a three-year period.

The affidavit said Raines admitted to writing herself checks in the amount of either $1,000 or $1,500. She also allegedly admitted to taking an undisclosed amount of money prior to writing checks to herself on a monthly basis and estimated the total amount she took was $58,000.

Raines was given the opportunity to pay the money back after rescue squad officials discovered Raines had been embezzling the money, the affidavit claimed.

Transylvania County Sheriff David Mahoney was notified after the money was not paid back, and officials also discovered the squad had several delinquent bills.

In February of last year, a grand jury handed down a felony embezzlement indictment, which is a class H felony and carries a maximum penalty of 30 months in jail.

Regarding the sentencing Thursday, Raines’ attorney, Donald Barton, said he and the family are “very disappointed,” and that jail time will “serve no purpose” or “help anyone.”

 
 

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