Director of the University of South Carolina’s Center for Manufacturing and Technology Pleads Guilty to Fraud
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Gail Shurling, 62, has entered a guilty plea in federal court in Columbia to Wire Fraud, a violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343. United States District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose Shurling’s sentence after the U.S. Probation Office prepares a presentence report.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that Shurling was the Director of the Center for Manufacturing and Technology (CMAT) at the University of South Carolina. As director, Shurling submitted fraudulent documentation that allowed CMAT to obtain federal grant money. The fraudulent documentation indicated that work was completed for the center when it had not been. Additionally, Shurling approved contracts and payments to shell corporations that were controlled by friends, family members, and herself for work that was not completed. In total, Shurling submitted approximately $336,000 worth of fraudulent documentation to the University, the Government, and to the entity responsible for administering the grant money.
United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated, “Public corruption is not limited to elected officials, it extends to anyone who misuses the public’s money or abuses the public’s trust. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our law enforcement partners, will continue to fight public corruption in all its forms.”
Special Agent in Charge Duane Townsend of the United States Department of Commerce, Office of the Inspector General, commented, “the cooperative effort leading to this prosecution is yet another example of how Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General’s Special Agents work diligently to disclose any criminal activity affecting Department-funded activities. This case will serve to bring to justice another perpetrator of fraud, recover taxpayer funds, and most importantly, serve as a deterrent to those who might consider abusing programs intended to benefit the public for personal enrichment. We very much appreciate the cooperation of the United States Attorney’s Office for supporting us in this mission.”
Mr. Nettles stated the maximum penalty for Wire Fraud is imprisonment for 20 years and/or a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the Office of the Inspector General, Department of Commerce, and the FBI. Assistant United States Attorney Jim May of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.