Charles Karesh must be the nicest guy in the world, the alleged soup-spitting notwithstanding.

Either that, or the Charleston Animal Society board is the most forgiving group of people in the world.

Those seem like the only explanations for why the Charleston Animal Society doesn't want to press charges against Karesh for admitting he took money from the charity.

And we're not exactly talking chump change here: Karesh allegedly stole a total of $71,888 between 2007 and 2011, while he was acting executive director and president of the animal society.

On the Dante's Inferno scoring system, stealing money from needy animals is only one step higher (or lower, depending on your loyalties) than stealing money from needy kids.

What usually happens when someone is accused of breaking the law is that they get charged with a crime, arrested, taken to jail. Except the CAS chose not to press charges.

SLED, however, didn't feel the same way, seeing as how the animal society gets public funds to operate its shelter. And it's because of their investigation that Karesh was charged and arrested.

Any other name

It's great that the board is on good terms with the man who admitted to taking money from the animal society, but that doesn't mean everybody can just look the other way.

Would your employer be OK with you secretly borrowing money and then giving it back when they found out you didn't tell them about your one-way loan arrangement?

In the real world this is called lying and stealing.

Look at Hanahan, for goodness' sake. The city's former human resources director, Kimberly Crolley Murdaugh, is charged with embezzlement of public funds, a charge that carries up to 10 years in prison.

State Law Enforcement Division agents said she allegedly treated herself and her family to $24,354 of free health insurance.

Anyone who's raged against higher insurance premiums or wrestled with medical bills can admit at least some small bit of empathy for Murdaugh, but she is accused of stealing from taxpayers to help herself and her family. And nobody's cutting her any slack.

Equal treatment

In light of Karesh's case, the animal society's board has established separate finance and audit committees, presumably as a form of checks and balances.

One would also presume that current and future executive directors don't have unfettered access to the society's checking account.

Folks from CAS have said that Karesh was so focused on the society's mission that he let other things go, including his own insurance business.

Even if it was his dedication that led to his downfall, it's still up to the legal system, not the board, to decide Karesh's punishment.

Reach Melanie Balog at 937-5565 or mbalog@post