Chapin accountant pleads guilty to $1.9 million embezzlement fraud

06/06/2014 9:25 PM

06/06/2014 9:26 PM

Chandra Padgett pleaded guilty Friday morning to charges related to the embezzlement of $1.9 million from an Irmo doctor.

Padgett, 45, of Chapin, appeared in front of U.S. Judge Joe Anderson as part of an agreement to plead guilty plea with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The money was taken from Irmo-based Advanced Pain Therapies.

It is the among the largest known embezzlement cases in recent Midlands history. Padgett was the trusted accountant for Advanced Pain Therapies in Irmo and created a fraudulent shell company called Padgett Specialty Scrapbook Service (PSS), prosecutors said.

Advanced Pain Therapies is a doctor-run practice that provides pain management and other medical services to patients, according to a federal information in the case. An “information” is the statement of charges to which a defendant has agreed to plead guilty.

Padgett’s attorney, Jack Duncan of Lexington, said that because she has no prior record and she has cooperated from the beginning of the investigation, she most likely will receive a reduced sentence. She currently faces a 25-year maximum sentence for fraud by wire, radio or television and an attempt to evade or defeat taxes.

According to details in the information, Padgett “created checks made payable to her company to her company PSS and hid them among the legitimate invoices.”

She was able to cover up the illegitimate payments to her false company by disguising them as payments to Physicians Sales & Services (PSS), a legitimate company and Advanced Pain Therapies’ main vendor. Padgett then made falsified adjustments to her salary and had the money deposited directly into her bank account and American Express cards.

Padgett owes $289,032 in back federal taxes for her income of $849,967 from the year 2011. This failure to pay taxes constitutes a willful “attempt to evade and defeat the income tax due,” the information says. She will be forced to forfeit $1.9 million.

William Odom, the doctor who runs Advanced Pain therapies, met Padgett when he was an emergency room physician at Newberry Hospital. When Odom opened his private practice in Irmo, he asked her to join him to handle the financial side of his business.

Several years ago, Odom began to notice “liquidity problems” and hired several accountants to look into the matter. One of them, a forensic accountant who specializes in white-collar theft methods, discovered a problem with money being siphoned out of the accounts. That’s when he and Odom notified authorities.

“This has been pending for a little while now,” U.S. Attorney DeWayne Pearson said. “We are glad that we got the proper resolution.”

Padgett posted a $25,000 bond and currently awaits sentencing, which will be determined within the next six to eight weeks.

Staff writer John Monk contributed to this article. Reach Cahill at (803) 771-8305.

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