COLUMBIA — The former accounting director of the South Carolina Hospitality Association pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling about $500,000 from the group, and prosecutors said she appeared to have been intimately involved with the director who killed himself earlier this year.
Rachel Duncan, 41, entered the plea to wire fraud and tax evasion charges in U.S. District Court in Columbia.
She was allowed to remain free on $25,000 bond until she is sentenced, likely later this summer.
Authorities have found no evidence that executive director Tom Sponseller received any of the $480,000 that Duncan has admitted she took, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Winston Holliday. But prosecutors said federal agents did find sexually-oriented photos of Duncan on Sponseller’s work computer while investigating the missing money.
Sponseller killed himself in February, leaving a suicide note in which police said he detailed his despair over Duncan’s apparent misdeeds and said he was despondent they happened on his watch.
Coca-Cola Co. will seek stock split
NEW YORK — The Coca-Cola Co. is seeking its first stock split in 16 years.
The world’s biggest beverage maker said Wednesday the 2-for-1 split is in line with its plan to double revenue over this decade. The Atlanta-based company’s stock began trading in 1919. Since then, the stock has been split only 10 other times.
Companies split stocks when they think their share price has gotten too expensive or if the stock is trading too far above similar companies’ stock.
If approved, Coke’s split would increase the number of its shares to 11.2 billion from 5.6 billion. Shareholders would receive one additional share of stock for each share held in early August.
The move is subject to approval by shareowners on July 10.
Delta posts profit on fuel hedges
MINNEAPOLIS — Delta Air Lines reported a first-quarter profit on Wednesday as gains from hedging its fuel costs made up for losses in its day-to-day operations.
The first three months of the year are usually the weakest for airlines because fewer people fly. Delta would have lost money, but its financial bets on fuel were showing a gain of $151 million when the quarter ended.
Delta’s net income was $124 million, or 15 cents per share. Revenue rose 9 percent to $8.41 billion.
Mexican diplomat released by police
ATLANTA — Police in an Atlanta suburb say they released a Mexican diplomat accused of drunken driving without holding him in jail after they learned of his government position.
A Roswell police report says Mariano Saynez Ruiz Duran had a blood-alcohol level of 0.126 and had been clocked at 91 mph on Georgia 400 early Friday.
Roswell police Lt. James McGee says Ruiz was released after police learned he’s a vice consular at the Mexican Consulate General’s Atlanta office.
The police report says officers confirmed he has partial immunity from law enforcement actions after calling the U.S. State Department.
It wasn’t known whether the 39-year-old north Fulton County resident has an attorney, and a home phone number for him could not be located.
In other news
THE SOUTH CAROLINA House voted Wednesday to direct $2.5 million in state cigarette tax collections toward cancer screenings. The measure now heads to the Senate.
THE SOUTH CAROLINA House today will debate a bill that eliminates two-dozen sales tax exemptions worth less than $13 million.
– Associated Press