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CPA faces theft charges

Investigation turns to business owner

POSTED: July 28, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Just two weeks after a former employee was arrested on charges of stealing more than $93,000 from a local accounting firm, the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office has secured a warrant for the arrest of the owner of the business.

Sheriff’s office spokesman Lt. Tony Wooten said investigators have charged Warren Pennington, 59, of Pickens County, with one count of theft by conversion. Chief Magistrate Judge Johnny

Holtzclaw signed the arrest warrant shortly after noon on Tuesday.

The sheriff’s office became involved with Pennington in May after he reported a former employee, Vivian Miles, 44, had allegedly stolen thousands of dollars from the company.

Miles is accused of redirecting funds designated to pay payroll taxes to the Internal Revenue Service for the accounting firm’s clients into the accounts of three acquaintances. Miles was arrested earlier this month on 22 counts of computer theft, according to warrants.

Evidence collected during the course of the initial investigation led Investigator Don Kimbel, who specializes in white collar crimes, to believe that Pennington had also taken money from a separate client’s escrow account without the client’s knowledge, Wooten said.

“Investigators believe $64,000 of the $100,000 in the escrow account is missing,” Wooten said.

Wooten said the client had recently sold a piece of property and placed $100,000 in an escrow account through the accounting firm.

The client would then be allowed by law to reinvest the money from the sale into additional property within 45 days and close within 180 days without being taxed by the IRS, Wooten said.

Pennington, who authorities say was initially cooperating with the investigation, has retained council.

Calls made to Warren Pennington CPA for comment were referred to Dawsonville attorney Ridge Rairigh by Pennington’s wife, Emily, who insisted a mistake has been made. 

“We’ve hired an attorney, and they are not correct in what they are allegating,” Emily Pennington said.

“I know what is going on and I know whose done what they have done, and why they’ve done what they’ve done, but what they are allegating is not right... so eventually the news will straighten itself out,” Emily Pennington said.

Calls to Rairigh were not returned as of press time.

The investigation is ongoing and additional charges could be filed “if additional evidence is determined during the remainder of the investigation,” Wooten said.Wooten said Pennington’s attorney “is working with investigators to set up a time for Mr. Pennington to turn himself in.”

Holtzclaw preset Pennington’s bond at $20.000, at the same time he signed the warrants, according to Wooten.

E-mail Michele Hester at michele@dawsonnews.com.

 

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