Law & Order boasted that its plotlines were “ripped from the headlines.” Hearing the new developments in the disappearance of South Carolina restaurant leader Tom Sponseller, you’d think the show’s scripts had been mined for some of the twists and turns.
As was reported here last week, Sponseller, the CEO of the South Carolina Hospitality Association, had vanished a week ago after putting in some weekend hours at the trade group’s offices in Columbia. No evidence of foul play was reported. But Sponseller’s car was in its usual parking space, and his wallet wasn’t found. The local police seemed baffled.
Now reports have emerged of Association funds having disappeared, too—to the tune of $100,000 to $900,000. The authorities haven’t alleged that Sponseller was involved in any embezzlement or theft. Rather, they’ve identified the group’s accounting director, Rachel Duncan, as a “person of interest.”
Duncan has not gone missing. But nor has she been arrested. Through a lawyer, she said that Sponseller was a good friend and that she was deeply upset by his disappearance.
Meanwhile, a federal investigation into the disappearance of the funds is continuing.
The Association has hired forensic auditors to investigate the money situation simultaneously.
As those probes continue, local police are continuing to ask the public to report anything they might know about Sponseller’s absence or whereabouts before he disappeared.