Former Charleston Animal Society president charged with embezzling $71,388

-- Charles Karesh, pictured in July 25, 2006 at the SPCA in North Charleston.

State Law Enforcement Division agents on Friday arrested former Charleston Animal Society president Charles Karesh and charged him with embezzling $71,388 from the organization, authorities said.

Karesh, 56, of Windermere Boulevard appeared in bond court this morning on an embezzlement charge. Magistrate Linda Lombard moved to release him on a personal recognizance bond.

Karesh’s attorney, Frank McCann, said his client is a well-respected man with strong character. McCann said there is no money missing and that the animal society has no desire to pursue the criminal charge in court.

Karesh resigned from his position with the society in December of 2011 after being questioned about $69,000 that was reported missing.

Board members later said the money was returned, and no charges were brought at the time.

SLED later determined that Karesh had siphoned money from the organization from September 2007 until September 2011 while serving as acting executive director and president of the animal society, according to an arrest affidavit.

The society is a designated agent for Charleston County and receives public funds to operate an animal shelter that takes in and cares for animals deposited by local law enforcement agencies, SLED said.

Karesh is accused of writing numerous personal business checks made out to the animal society that he cashed at the shelter to get money, the affidavit stated. The bank later sent those checks back to the animal society for having insufficient funds, resulting in additional banking fees, the affidavit said.

An internal audit later put the amount of missing money at $71,388, SLED said.

He is charged with embezzlement of more than $5,000. He is expected to have a bond hearing this morning.

Karesh’s latest charge comes a week after Charleston police arrested him after a former board member said Karesh kept spitting soup on his car.

Karesh was charged with malicious injury to property in connection with that incident.

Check back with as more details become available.

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