Carolina Got Talent organizer arrested for embezzlement

GEORGETOWN, S.C. (WBTW) – The Georgetown Police Department arrested Wardell Brantley, president of the South Carolina Media Arts Academy, for alleged fraud in the Carolina Got Talent competition.

According to a release from Georgetown police, Brantley, 44, of Conway, is charged with embezzlement, breach of trust, and operating without a business license.

Police say on April 21, a contestant from Carolina Got Talent came to the police department to make a fraud complaint. The talent competition was held from Sept. 2016 through March 2017 at 1200 Highmarket St at the Winyah Auditorium in Georgetown. The competition is administered by South Carolina Media Arts Academy which is headed by Brantley, police report.

CarolinaGotTalent.com says, “President, Wardell Brantley created the Carolina Got Talent as a way to provide funding and scholarships for the Academy and a hands-on learning-project for the students.”

Carolina Got Talent regulations state a grand prize winner would be awarded $10,000. In addition, the top four finalists would receive scholarships. On the final night of the contest, the victim told police he was selected as the winner, but no money was awarded that night.
Upon the victim’s complaint, police began to look into South Carolina Media Arts Academy bank records after obtaining a search warrant. Investigators discovered that Brantley was using money from the academy for his own purposes. Police say Brantley was writing checks to himself from the Winyah Auditorium and depositing them. Investigators also discovered that Brantley was taking payments from customers fo the Winyah Auditorium and using that money for his own purposes.

The investigation into the case continues and other arrests are possible, police report. Anyone with information about this case should contact then Georgetown Police Department at 843-545-4300.

Brantley was booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center Friday at 11:51 a.m. and was released on $65,000 bond less than six hours later.

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