Blythewood businesswoman faces theft charges involving state contract

abeam@thestate.comNovember 1, 2013 

Terris Sherelle Riley

Terris Sherelle Riley

ALVIN S. GLENN DETENTION CENTER

— Two weeks ago, New Venue Technologies was honored as one of the top performing businesses in the state. On Friday, its president and chief executive was in jail, accused of stealing state money.

The State Law Enforcement Division arrested Terris Shirelle Riley, 39, of Blythewood on Friday, charging her with breach of trust with fraudulent intent involving $10,000 or more. The maximum penalty is 10 years in prison or a fine at the discretion of the court.

Riley had a contract with the state to purchase software products. The state would give her money, and she would make the purchase – keeping 2.5 percent as commission. For two and a half years, more than $20 million in state money "passed through her hands," according to Allen Myrick, a senior assistant deputy attorney general who is prosecuting the case.

Myrick said Riley should have made $700,000 from her purchases. But an audit by the State Budget and Control Board found more than $2 million was missing from the account. Myrick told a Richland County judge Friday evening that Riley used money from the account to purchase her home in Blythewood.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, had appointed Riley to Gov. Nikki Haley’s Regulatory Review Task Force. The governor’s office confirmed Friday that Riley had been removed from the committee following her arrest.

Rutherford now is acting as Riley’s attorney.

"At best this is a contract case," Rutherford said. "It is not a criminal matter. She has been working to try and resolve this contract issue, and they get SLED to go and arrest her."

A judge set Riley’s bond at $50,000, giving her permission to leave the state occasionally for business meetings. Her court date is scheduled for Dec. 9 at 9 a.m.

Riley’s Twitter page was active Friday morning. Shortly after 10 a.m., Riley tweeted: "When the dust settles, I’ll be standing. But, first I will endure that which seems hard, but I won’t bow the knee. I was born a champion."

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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