Feds still investigating hospitality association

Columbia, (WACH) - Former South Carolina Restaurant and Hospitality Accounting Director Rachel Duncan remains the target of a federal investigation after an audit revealed a half-million dollars of the agency's money was unaccounted for.

She has not been charged at this point. The U.S. Secret Service is the lead agency on this investigation:

"Like many other federal law enforcement agencies, they monitor banking activity,â?? says former Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Barbier. â??So what specifically raised their eyes in this case? We don't know."

Police found a suicide note from former hospitality Chief Tom Sponseller. In the letter, he expressed regret for not catching the discrepancy sooner and indicated that Duncan may have lost the money due to gambling.

"Internet gambling is an international industry that people think is a 4 to 6 billion dollar industry,â?? adds Barbier.

Earlier this month Interim Director of the association Rick Erwin said the agency is fully cooperating with federal authorities in the probe.

"What we heard was shocking, It was sickening, and it is inexcusable," Erwin said about the missing money.

Erwin ordered an audit of the associationâ??s finances after Sponseller disappeared last month the executive was later found dead of a self inflicted gunshot wound.

Barbier says the U.S. attorney will likely conduct a thorough investigation then turn the case over to a federal grand jury before anyone is charged.

"People who are given a certain amount of trust and authority at places they work, sometimes take advantage of that, and particularly when they are coming into financially hard times."

The hospitality association says Sponseller was never the subject of the Secret Service investigation into the missing money. The audit of the association is not yet complete