Crippled SC Hospitality Association getting a fresh start

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) - The South Carolina Hospitality Association has a new leader ... and a new name.

The new South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association announced former director of parks, recreation and tourism, John Durst as its new president.

The Association has been in the spotlight in 2012.{} Former President Tom Sponseller went missing in February. It wasn't until ten days later that Columbia police found him dead in a parking garage storage closet.{} The death was ruled a suicide.

Months later, the agency's accounting director, Rachel Duncan, plead guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud after nearly half a million dollars disappeared from association funds.

Duncan was the woman Sponseller described in a suicide note.

"Tom was a giant in the tourism industry," said new president, John Durst, of Sponseller. "And he genuinley was - Tom's shoes will be very big to fill."

Durst said on Thursday sucking funds from the assocation was an inexcuseable incident that came from little oversight.

"[I'm] very pleased and gratifed and confident about the safeguards that have been put in place to ensure the difficulties of the past won't be repeated," he said.

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