A man wanted in connection with the theft of $190,000 from the Coastal Carolina Fair was found Friday in Walterboro, according to the Charleston County Sheriff's Office.
To offer tips
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Dennis Lott, 57, of Goose Creek, is asked to call the Charleston County Sheriff's Office at 202-1700 or CrimeStoppers at 554-1111.
Dennis Lott, 57, of Goose Creek, was located at about 7 p.m. by the Walterboro Police Department, according to the Sheriff's Office. He was driving his 2003 Toyota Corolla at the time of his arrest.
Lott, who is charged with breach of trust, was transported to the Cannon Detention Center. A bond hearing will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Lott was expected to turn himself in Friday but did not show, leading authorities to believe he was on the lam, according to the Sheriff's Office. A warrant for breach of trust was issued for him, according to the Sheriff's Office.
At a press conference Friday afternoon, Assistant Sheriff Mitch Lucas said Lott was not considered a flight risk and was expected to surrender, but when he did not do so by 5:30 p.m., authorities issued the warrant.
The investigation into the missing money is ongoing.
Authorities were notified Thursday about the alleged theft from the fair's accounts, Lucas said. The theft happened in July.
An incident report identified Lott, last year's fair president, a volunteer position, as a suspect in the embezzlement case.
Lucas said the department was informed that the Exchange Club of Charleston, which runs the fair, had conducted a forensic audit after discovering the money missing and had uncovered a single check Lott wrote to himself and signed for $190,000.
"We have reason to believe that he did write himself a check," Lucas said. "We don't know yet if anyone else is involved. We have to get the documents first."
When contacted by The Post and Courier early Friday, Lott would only say he believed the situation would be resolved soon.
According to Berkeley County court records, a foreclosure complaint was filed against Lott in May, about two months before the theft is believed to have occurred. The home in the Crowfield Plantation subdivision was later sold in July, court records show.
Lott would not comment on whether the alleged theft and his home's foreclosure were connected.
Lucas said it didn't matter.
"It makes no difference what he used it for," Lucas said. "If he did it, it's a criminal act."
Fair spokesman Joe Bolchoz said the money was taken from a "rainy day" reserve fund that is maintained by the organization. In spite of the theft, the account is still "very healthy," he said.
"While there is a large sum of money involved, it's in no way going to hamper us running a quality fair this year," Bolchoz said. He added that the alleged theft won't hamper charitable giving this year.
"In fact, we're increasing our charitable giving by $20,000," he said.
One of the fair's employees uncovered the alleged theft in February. Fair officials hired an attorney and a forensic auditor to help go through the books to search for any other potential thefts, Bolchoz said.
"The fair is trying to act prudently in the matter. We want to make sure we're handling this thing correctly," Bolchoz said.
On the Exchange Club of Charleston website, the group reports giving more than $650,000 from last year's fair toward service projects and cash grants to charities throughout the Lowcountry.
The fair's president, Mike Jernigan, reported to deputies Thursday that Lott had used his influence possibly to steal or transfer money for his own personal use.
Reach Christina Elmore at 937-5908 or at Twitter.com/celmorePC.
A kayaker paddles through the water during the Coastal Carolina Fair on Nov. 2 at Exchange Park in Ladson. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has charged Dennis Lott, 57, of Goose Creek in connection with nearly $200,000 missing from the fair.×
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