Bond court delayed pending mental eval for former Fair pres

LADSON, S.C. (WCIV) - The man deputies believe stole nearly $200,000 from the Coastal Carolina Fair was taken into custody in Walterboro Friday night, but his bond hearing has been delayed for several days.

According to Charleston County Sheriff's Office officials, Dennis Allen Lott's bond court was postponed so that he could undergo a mental evaluation. The evaluation could take up to a week to complete.

Lott was supposed to go through bond court at 10 a.m. Saturday. {}

According to Charleston County deputies,{}Dennis Allen Lott was found and arrested by Walterboro police. The 57-year-old Lott was scheduled to meet with Charleston County Sheriff's Deputies late Friday afternoon, but he didn't show up.

Just before 6 p.m. Friday, deputies said Lott was avoiding them. They believed he was driving around in his Toyota Corolla and they were right.

Walterboro Police caught up with him around 7 p.m. Friday.

Deputies are looking into allegations that Lott stole money from the Coastal Carolina Fair through his position in the organization.

According to an incident report, the president of the Coastal Carolina Fair alerted Charleston County deputies to the misappropriation of funds by an employee. The incident report states the employee was directing money for the fair into his personal account.

Deputies said in a press conference Friday afternoon that Lott is a former president of the Exchange Club. The current president told deputies that last July, months before the fair started, an internal audit discovered a $190,000 check had been written.

"What the money buys or contributes to has absolutely nothing to do with the criminal charge," said Mitch Lucas, assistant sheriff for Charleston County.{}

He says there isn't an excuse for what Dennis Lott is accused of doing. His detectives believe Lott wrote a $190,000 check, and cashed it for himself.

"The criminal act is writing a check and cashing it and using the funds for something other than what the organization would have intended, especially if it's for his personal use," said Lucas.

At the time, Lott was the president of the Coastal Carolina Fair. Investigators say there was no reason to believe he would have done anything wrong.

"He's a long time member of the Exchange Club.{} And has worked many years at the Coastal Carolina Fair.{} But there's nothing that would have been a red flag for anyone to have believed that he might have done something like this," said Lucas.

Lott could face up to 10 years in prison if he's convicted.{}

Before the criminal investigation, Lott had been a public figure at the fairgrounds and gave many interviews in the past several years on the work being done at the fair.{}

"Last year, we supported some sixty two charities to the tune of about $622,000," said Dennis Lott in 2012 at the Coastal Carolina Fair.

The trusted leader was in charge of an event that tens of thousands enjoy, and other benefit from.{}

"We hope possibly, possibly to be able to cross that quarter-of-a-million line which would be an all-time record for us," said Lott in 2013.

Now, Dennis Lott is charged with breach of trust at an organization known for its good deeds. And the allegations leave many wondering why he could have done something bad.

"It could be the noblest of reason in the world. It's still a criminal act," said Lucas.

Last year, Exchange Club officials said $802,921 would go to 77 charities, scholarships and other programs in the surrounding area. That money came from revenue from the 2012 Coastal Carolina Fair.