COLUMBIA – A former Newberry County nursing home employee will spend 30 months in federal prison on embezzlement and charges for filing false tax returns.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles announced that Tuesday morning, the Honorable Michelle Childs sentenced Tina Lewis Clinton to 30 months in jail on one count of embezzlement and five counts of filing false tax returns.
Clinton worked for the nursing home from 2005 until 2009 while it was still owned by Newberry County.
As a bookkeeper, Clinton had the responsibility of making deposits, and instead of depositing checks for residents receiving Social Security and Veteran’s benefits, Clinton cashed the checks and diverted the funds to her personal use.
Clinton was able to cover her theft by making accounting adjustments to the residents’ accounts.
The theft was picked up on when a bank employee spoke with another nursing home worker and said that the bank had given Clinton too much money back in cash.
Newberry Police Chief Jackie Swindler said when his department was contacted about the case in it was thought the embezzlement was for about $100,000 but as the investigation continued with bank subpoenas and a forensic audit the amount and length of the thefts grew.
Swindler says his department spent a lot to time investigating the case but that Clinton was cooperative the entire time.
Clinton embezzled a total of $440,958.05 during the four years she worked at the nursing home
Clinton is charged with failing to report the stolen income on her tax returns, and has an additional tax due of over $65,000.
Nettles added that no resident of the nursing home lost money as a result of the embezzlement, because the loss was covered by a bonding company.
Newberry County Administrator Wayne Adams said the bond insurance carried by the county for the nursing home covered the loss and reimbursed the money that was taken.
Clinton was fired from her position when the theft was discovered towards the end of 2009.
The case has since moved to the state court level and was then passed up to the federal courts.
“We are glad this chapter has come to a close,” said Adams.
Since the case was filed in state court, Eighth Circuit Solicitor Jerry Peace said given the facts and the type of facility involved in the embezzlement that he asked if there was interest in the case being handled at the federal level. The charges were then upgraded to the federal courts.
After Clinton was found guilty in May the court ordered a pre sentence report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office and the sentencing was postponed until
The court on Tuesday ordered Clinton to make full restitution of the loss to the bonding company and to the IRS.
Clinton has made a $15,000 payment to date, according to Nettles.
This investigation and conviction is a result of the cooperation of agents of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the Newberry Police Department, and the Offices of the Inspector General at both the Veterans’ Administration and the Social Security Administration. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Beth Drake.
The maximum sentence Clinton could have faced on the embezzlement charge was 10 years imprisonment, three years of supervised release, and a fine of twice the loss to the victim. The maximum sentence Clinton faces on each of the tax charges is three years imprisonment, a year of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.
Since Clinton was charged, the county sold the nursing home facility to a private company.