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Press Release

Sumter County Man Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud

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

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA —Rodney Ellis, 71, of Sumter County, has pleaded guilty to defrauding Sumter Behavioral Health Services (SBHS), a 501c3 non-profit.

Evidence obtained in the investigation revealed that Ellis, between 2013 and 2020, while employed by SBHS as its Financial Officer defrauded the non-profit out of at least $800,000 by diverting funds from SBHS banking accounts to his own personal banking accounts to which he was not entitled.

“This Office is committed to prosecuting economic crimes, especially those that take advantage of organizations that treat some of the most vulnerable in our community,” said U.S. Attorney Corey F. Ellis. “We appreciate the efforts of all state and federal agencies involved in this case.”

“Behavioral health organizations depend on every dollar allocated to treat those seeking help for their substance abuse challenges,” said FBI Columbia Special Agent in Charge, Susan Ferensic.  “It is inexcusable for someone with a high-ranking position, like Ellis, to steal the organization’s funds for personal benefit.  The FBI will continue to work jointly with the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement partners to uncover the misuse of funds and hold the perpetrators accountable.”

Ellis faces a maximum penalty of twenty years in federal prison. He also faces a fine of up to $250,000, restitution, and three years of supervision to follow the term of imprisonment.  Senior United States District Judge Terry Wooten accepted the guilty plea and will sentence Ellis after receiving and reviewing a sentencing report prepared by the United States Probation Office.

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



Derek A. Shoemake (843) 813-0982

Updated June 30, 2022

Financial Fraud