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Press Release

Financial Officer Sentenced to Nearly Three Years for Defrauding Sumter County Non-Profit

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of South Carolina

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA —Rodney Ellis, 71, of Sumter, was sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison after pleading guilty to his role in defrauding a local non-profit organization. 

Evidence presented to the Court showed that while serving as the Financial Officer for Sumter Behavioral Health Services (SBHS), a 501c3 non-profit, Ellis defrauded the non-profit out of more than $800,000 over eight years. His scheme was to divert funds from SBHS banking accounts to his own personal banking accounts.

United States District Judge Terry L. Wooten sentenced Ellis to 33 months in federal prison, to be followed by a three-year term of court-ordered supervision.  Ellis was also ordered to pay restitution to SBHS in the amount of $812,259.07.  There is no parole in the federal system.

“By stealing from an organization that serves those suffering from substance abuse, Ellis took from those he should have been protecting,” said U.S. Attorney Adair F. Boroughs. “This case shows that financial crimes are not victimless, and often do the most harm to those who need help the most. This office will continue to aggressively prosecute fraud, and we appreciate the efforts of all state and federal agencies involved in this case.”

“Ellis used his position of power to take advantage of a system designed to help those with substance abuse challenges,” said Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Columbia Special Agent in Charge, Susan Ferensic. “Our work is not finished. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to dismantle the schemes that hurt health organizations and we will hold the perpetrators accountable.”

“I am grateful to the United States Attorney’s Office for their efforts in bringing Rodney Ellis to justice,” said Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis “Ellis betrayed the trust of not only members of the Sumter Behavioral Health office, but the citizens of Sumter County. We hope the message is clear that anyone who betrays the trust of their employer by taking funds will be held responsible and all efforts will be utilized to bring them to justice.”

This case was investigated by the FBI and the Sumter County Sherriff’s Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Bower prosecuted the case.


Derek Shoemake, Public Information Officer, U.S. Attorney’s Office,, (843) 813-0982

Updated September 23, 2022