Crime & Courts

4 more plead guilty in DSS embezzlement

Four more people have pleaded guilty in connection with a DSS embezzlement scheme, the U.S. attorney's office has announced.

Brenda Marie Trapp, 48, of Columbia, Raven Elaine Brown, 30, of Blythewood, and Derrick Londell Johnson, 38, and Ricky Donald Gratic, 47, both of Winnsboro, pleaded guilty Tuesday to theft of government property for their role in a DSS check-cashing scheme, officials said.

And Wednesday, the U.S. attorney's office said 10 more people were arraigned on theft of government property charges: Johnnie Mae Battle, 65, Barbara Lynn Martin, 53, Fronnie Andina Harris, 58, Albert Cruel, 53, Antonio S. Smith, 33, Willie Howard Ross, 66, and Jocelyn Renee Egleton, 28, all of Columbia; Wendell Smith, 49, of West Columbia; and Gail Moody Johnson, 53, and Hoover Johnson, Jr., 49, both of Aiken.

Three other defendants, Troy Lydell Taylor, 38, of Columbia, Joseph Penneal Young, 41, and Harriet Young Woodard, 38, both of Winnsboro, failed to appear in court as summoned and are considered fugitives.

Paul Timothy Moore was indicted in February for using his position as the DSS finance director to authorize the issuance of hundreds of DSS checks between May 2004 and October 2008, officials say. The checks were made payable to names allegedly provided by a coconspirator who also recruited the named individuals to cash the checks and split the proceeds.

Moore pled guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to commit honest services mail and wire fraud and theft of government property and one count of theft from an organization receiving federal funds, for his scheme to embezzle $5.2 million dollars from DSS. Moore is currently awaiting sentencing.

To date, 52 people have been charged in this scheme.

The maximum possible penalty for theft of government property is 10 years and a fine of $250,000.00.