June 15, 2018
Former Town Administrator and Former Town Treasurer Pleads Guilty
Former Town Administrator, Tumiko Rucker, and former Town Treasurer, Harrison Kenneth Gunnells have both pled guilty to felony charges of Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud while employed at the Town of Kiawah Island.
Both pled before the Federal District Court. Harrison Kenneth Gunnells appeared on May 27, 2018, and Tumiko Rucker appeared on June 14, 2018. The judge will sentence both defendants under federal sentencing guidelines which are advisory in nature. While federal prosecutors are able to recommend a particular sentence under a plea agreement, the ultimate decision will be made by U.S. District Judge Michael Duffy.
On November 14, 2017, the U.S. Attorney informed Town of Kiawah Island officials that charges had been filed and a federal grand jury had indicted the two former Town employees stemming from alleged misuse of Town funds. Both former employees were terminated from their positions with the Town in 2015 after evidence of their actions was discovered.
In response to yesterday’s action, Mayor Weaver stated “The decisions by Kenneth Gunnells and Tumiko Rucker to plead guilty to the charges brought by the US Attorney’s office are a major step in bringing this matter to a conclusion. The Town will await final sentencing decisions by the Court to address the financial losses the Town experienced because of the actions of these former employees. I appreciate the significant effort by law enforcement and the US Attorney, Rhett DeHart to bring us to this point.
While I am pleased with yesterday’s action, I also can’t help but reflect that there are no winners in this matter. Rucker and Gunnells most certainly did harm to themselves and to their personal lives that will not be easily overcome. Nonetheless, their actions abused the confidence placed in them by their co-workers and Town’s elected officials and violated their most basic obligations to the citizens of Kiawah Island.”