Criminal Justice

Ex-Employee Gets 20 Years in 2 Law Firm Theft Schemes

A former employee who stole $35,000 from two South Carolina law firms in separate theft schemes was sentenced to 20 years in prison after she pleaded guilty yesterday.

However, Carolyn Keyes, 60, will only have to serve three years, followed by five years of probation, if she complies with court requirements, reports the Myrtle Beach Sun News. She must pay $22,500 in restitution.

Keyes admittedly stole $20,492 from Manley & Hatley, while working there for 18 months in 2005 and 2006. In a subsequent stint at the McNair Law Firm, she took another $15,149, the newspaper reports. Keyes reportedly obtained the money by falsely completing closing documents.

Keyes apologized in court yesterday after pleading guilty to two counts of breach of trust with fraudulent intent. However, one former employer called for punishment this time around, noting that Keyes received probation after pleading guilty in 2004 to obtaining $1,850 by false pretenses, in a case that concerned a former landlord.

“She jeopardized my livelihood. She jeopardized the livelihood of my employees,” atttorney Chad Hatley told the judge, explaining that it cost him $72,000 to hire accountants and auditors, repay clients and respond to South Carolina Bar Association questions about the situation in his office. “This will continue again and again. She’s now in a small town in Virginia, and she’s going to prey on a small law firm there.”

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