Guilty plea for former trucking company HR director - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Guilty plea for former trucking company HR director

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Lori Caldwell Lori Caldwell

Lori Caldwell, the former human resources director at South Eastern Freight Lines accused of misappropriating funds from the company, pleaded guilty in court Thursday to a breach of trust charge.

Caldwell, 39, was arrested back in July 2012 after a third-party audit discovered false and fraudulent expense reports claiming she paid for advertisements for trucking positions out of her pocket. The reimbursement checks were made out to her.

Caldwell told the judge she paid bills with the money and took care of her family and friends by buying gift cards, jewelry, and even paying for a friend's child's tuition to school.

Caldwell also said morale at work was low and she felt like she needed to help her friends financially. In addition, her own family needed funds when her husband's job and medical issues created a financial burden on the family.

The trucking company's attorney, Clifford Bourke, said Caldwell stole money from the company one to two times a week.

Bourke said Caldwell told co-workers she could afford all the items she gave them through a trust fund she received when her mother died of cancer in 1990. 

Bourke and investigators also revealed in court that the total amount lifted from the company came to around $400,000.

Caldwell's attorney, Arthur Aiken, said it was her mother's death that caused her to have added stress and the issue of not knowing how to deal with the financial issues that her family faced.

"I am so sorry for the trouble this has caused," Caldwell told the judge.

She also apologized to her co-workers for the incident, saying she was not a monster.

"I did what I am being accused of. I felt abandoned to deal with [my mother's] death. My family moved on. People weren't there when my mom died, and I didn't think they would be there for me as an adult," said Caldwell.

Caldwell now faces four years in prison and must repay $284,000 back to the trucking company.

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