Ex-social services chief to plead guilty

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COLUMBIA --- The former director of South Carolina's social services plans to plead guilty to embezzling millions of dollars from that agency once his lawyers can agree with prosecutors on how much money was stolen, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Mr. Moore, 61, has spent the past two months in prison, unable to make his $50,000 bail.  Associated Press
Associated Press
Mr. Moore, 61, has spent the past two months in prison, unable to make his $50,000 bail.

Paul Moore submitted a not guilty plea to theft and fraud charges at arraignment Tuesday in federal court. But his attorney Beattie Ashmore said Mr. Moore plans to change to a guilty plea once he can agree with prosecutors on the amount taken from the Department of Social Services.

Mr. Ashmore said Mr. Moore has been planning to plead guilty since authorities said they uncovered an embezzlement scheme in November. But the lawyer said the two sides are nearly $4 million apart. Prosecutors said Mr. Moore took $5.2 million, while Mr. Ashmore said he and Mr. Moore have been able to account for only about $1.3 million.

Mr. Ashmore said the two sides will spend several weeks going though documents to see whether they can reconcile amounts. If they can't reach an agreement, a judge will determine how much was taken, Mr. Ashmore said.

"In federal court, your ultimate sentence is set by the amount that was lost. The more the loss, the more the sentence," Mr. Ashmore said.

If found guilty of the charges, Mr. Moore could face up to 30 years in prison.

Mr. Ashmore said he received 1,700 pages of documents Tuesday on the case from prosecutors. In the documents, prosecutors allege Mr. Moore issued more than 750 checks, worth an average of $7,000 each, during a 41/2-year scheme that snowballed into millions of dollars of theft.

Prosecutors allege the scheme went undetected because Mr. Moore wrote the checks from a special account and asked state treasury officials to return them. Mr. Moore then gave the checks to a go-between named Jonathan Moses, who had people cash them, according to authorities.

Mr. Moses waited outside the bank, leaving the check cashers with about $1,000, authorities allege. Prosecutors said he and Mr. Moore split the rest. Mr. Moses' attorney has said the government has shown no proof his client kept any money.

Investigators said Mr. Moore spent the money on parties, alcohol and strippers.

Federal prosecutors also have charged Mr. Moses and eight people they say cashed the checks. Four pleaded not guilty Tuesday. More arrests are likely, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin McDonald said.

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Craig Spinks
Craig Spinks 03/04/09 - 04:05 am
Well, the SCDSS didn't pay

Well, the SCDSS didn't pay him enough to finance parties, booze and whores out of his own pocket. What was he supposed to do?

Ga Values
Ga Values 03/04/09 - 07:17 am
This man's talents are going

This man's talents are going to be wasted in jail, he should be in congress.

pofwe 03/04/09 - 07:29 am
What a dilema! They can't

What a dilema! They can't agree if he stole $5.2, $4, or $1.3 million. Let me see ... since he stole at least $1 dollar from the gov't coffers throw this "partying animal" thief into the hooscow. Do not allow bond, do not allow house arrest, do not allow his political ties to abate justice.

americanveteran 03/04/09 - 08:16 am
Sad ending for a man that

Sad ending for a man that comes from a good hard working family. Not making excuses for him, but he should do his time in prison, his career and public life are over and he will be a broken man. The shame and pain he has brought to his family will endure for a long, long time. Let's move on past this and allow the legal system to do it's job.

The people that know Paul will hopefully remember the years that he was a good public servant before he became a crooked public offical and betrayed our trust in him.

reader54 03/04/09 - 09:38 am
This ole boy was caught at

This ole boy was caught at the wrong time . The Feds are going to BBQ his rear as an example to the other public corruption that is ongoing.

justus4 03/04/09 - 11:51 am
This guy and others like him

This guy and others like him have destroyed this country. And none are minority. This example happened thousands of times throughout this country and msot will not go to jail. This guy will probably get off. And the poor kids get life for taking a bag of chips. Wow!

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