Crime & Courts

Mother, daughter plead guilty to felony charges

GEORGETOWN -- The mother and daughter who operated Five Rivers Community Development Corp. here pleaded guilty to a combined six felony charges today but it is likely neither woman will serve any time in prison.

Dayo White, former chief financial officer at Five Rivers, pleaded guilty to two counts of breach of trust and one count of criminal conspiracy. Judge Steven John ordered her to pay restitution of $52,489.

Beulah White, Dayo White's mother and the former executive director at Five Rivers, pleaded guilty to breach of trust, embezzlement and criminal conspiracy. John ordered her to pay restitution of $3,500.

The restitution from both women must begin within 90 days. The money will go to a trust account in the Georgetown County Clerk of Court's office, and victims of the theft -- including the state of South Carolina -- will have six months to file a claim. John then will hold a hearing to determine what happens with the money.

The S.C. Attorney General's office, which was to prosecute the case, recommended that neither woman serve any jail time.

John imposed suspended sentences of five years each for the Whites and placed them on probation for the next five years. He said the victims in the case are the low-income residents of Georgetown County who needed the financial assistance Five Rivers was supposed to provide.

The Whites will have up to five years to pay the restitution. If the money is not paid within that time, their probation will be revoked.

Neither woman made a comment during the sentencing phase.

Charlie Condon, Dayo White's lawyer, described his client as a talented person but said "she did stub her toe here."

Hemphill Pride, Beulah White's lawyer, said his client is a very spiritual person involved in her church who will "make herself again into the citizen she always has been."

Both lawyers said their clients have been out of work because of the criminal charges but now will seek employment so they can begin paying restitution.

The attorney general's office also dropped a combined nine felony charges against the women as part of the plea agreement.

Dayo White had been charged with nine felony counts that she stole money from Five Rivers, a nonprofit agency that was supposed to help low-income people find jobs and buy homes.

Beulah White had been charged with six counts of felony embezzlement.

Separate from the embezzlement charges, the Whites are accused of misusing $418,180 from a federal grant that was supposed to go toward construction of a community center. It is not clear whether the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which administered the grant, will file any charges related to that case.

-- The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News