Brantley Thomas

Brantley Thomas. Provided

Former Berkeley County School District Chief Financial Officer Brantley D. Thomas III was jailed Monday after a judge revoked his bail.

Thomas, who has admitted to stealing more than $1 million from the school district, was charged last month with stealing from the eye care business that hired him while he was out on bail.

U.S. Judge Jacquelyn Austin signed an order Monday declaring Thomas to be jailed until sentencing based on his charges and behavior.

His state trial is set for March, officials said. He was incarcerated in the Upstate and is expected to be transferred soon to the Al Cannon Detention Center in Charleston.

Thomas, 61, faces two state indictments for one count of breach of trust, one count of money laundering, five counts of embezzlement and one count of misconduct in office. He also has three federal indictments with 27 embezzlement charges and two charges of forgery.

Prior to a Sept. 21 state hearing on an additional indictment of 13 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery, Thomas had been free on a $50,000 surety bond.

Circuit Judge Robert Hood changed that to a $50,000 personal recognizance bond for the state charges. Thomas also was given $5,000 personal recognizance bond.

Hood recently found that Thomas had not violated his bail conditions and allowed him to remain free on house arrest. 

But according to Monday’s federal order, Thomas, “while on federal bond for fraud and embezzlement, money laundering and wire fraud, and after entering a guilty plea to the same before Judge Norton and agreeing to cooperate with the government, committed the same or similar offense of embezzlement against his most recent employer resulting in an indictment by the state grand jury.”

He is “unlikely to abide by any condition or combination of conditions of release” and there are “no conditions of release that will reasonably assure the safety of the community,” according to the order.

South Carolina Attorney General spokesman Robert Kittle said that office agrees with the federal judge's decision.

"The new State Grand Jury indictments show that Brantley Thomas is unsuited to be out on either federal or state bond," Kittle added.

Thomas started working at the district in 1993 and oversaw all its finances, including a $260 million general fund. His $130,500 salary made him one of the district’s highest-paid employees.

Authorities have said he began stealing money from the district on Sept. 11, 2001.

By the time officials learned in early 2017 that Wells Fargo and the FBI were probing the district’s finances, the former executive had taken more than $1.2 million through various schemes, officials said. He was fired on Feb. 7, 2017.

In January, he pleaded guilty in federal court to indictments charging him with one count of fraud and embezzlement from a federally funded program, nine counts of money laundering and 10 counts of “honest services wire fraud,” which involved receiving kickbacks for awarding insurance policy contracts to specific companies.

He faces a total of up to 300 years in prison and more than $5 million in fines on the federal charges, and up to 305 years on the state charges, officials said.

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Reach Brenda Rindge at 843-937-5713. Follow her on Twitter @brindge.