Online Poker Addict Due To Be Sentenced For Embezzlement

A woman who embezzled nearly half a million dollars from the Columbia State Hospitality Association to support her addiction to online poker and slots is due to be sentenced. Rachel Duncan, 42, pled guilty to charges of tax evasion and wire fraud and has agreed to repay $367,000 over the course of her lifetime.

The theft was discovered when the founder and Executive Director of the company, Tom Sponseller, went missing earlier this year. He was found days later in the office garage, having committed suicide and left a three-page note detailing Duncan’s confession to the embezzlement.

Poker blog sites report that Duncan’s lawyer, Greg Harris, has filed papers ahead of the sentencing to request leniency. In the papers is a detailed account of Duncan’s troubled life, including childhood sexual abuse by her father, an abusive relationship with her husband and a painful divorce. Harris said that her addiction, which began with video poker in Columbia bars, progressed to online gambling when South Carolina outlawed video poker in 2000.

Duncan faces up to 23 years in jail plus $350,000 in fines. According to federal sentencing rules, it is unlikely that she will receive more than 2-3 years in jail, or have to pay any additional fines. Federal judges will take into consideration the amount Duncan is paying in restitution, which Harris argues Duncan will be paying off for the rest of her life.