Federal officials probing SC Hospitality group

By MEG KINNARD
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Federal officials have confirmed that they are investigating several hundred thousand missing from the South Carolina Hospitality Association.

U.S. Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Michael Williams told The Associated Press on Monday that agents began looking into the association's finances several months ago. Williams says that several hundred thousand dollars are missing from the group that lobbies for South Carolina's $14 billion tourism industry.

Agents are combing the association's books as the search for its president and chief executive stretches into a second week. Tom Sponseller was last seen Feb. 18 at his office in Columbia.

Williams says Sponseller is not a target of his investigation. A consultant for the association says its interim director has hired an accounting firm to do an audit.

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