Former county employee charged with taking over $250,000

RIDGELAND, S.C. (AP) — A former Jasper County employee has pleaded guilty to embezzling nearly $275,000.

Prosecutors say that 57-year-old Denise Smith of Kennsaw, Georgia, pleaded guilty Friday to embezzling $274,175 while working as a financial analyst for the county.

A judge sentenced her to eight years in prison and to repay the money.

Prosecutors said she created invoices for a fake landscaping company that the county paid.

County officials became aware of discrepancies after she retired and was hired part-time to train her replacement.

Francine Norz of the 14th Circuit Solicitor's Office said the thefts were not a "one-time thing" and that Smith abused the public's trust.

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