The South Carolina tourism lobbying group whose president killed himself earlier this year has announced its new leader.
The South Carolina Hospitality Association held a news conference Thursday in Columbia to announce that John Durst, former director of the S. C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, is the new President and CEO of the organization.
The group also announced that it's association will now be called the South Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association.
Durst served as the state's top tourism official during Gov. Jim Hodges' administration. Greenville businessman Rick Erwin has run the group since the death of its former president and CEO earlier this year.
Tom Sponseller founded the group more than two decades ago and served as its public spokesman and chief lobbyist.
Authorities said Sponseller shot himself to death in February. In a suicide note, Sponseller said he was despondent after discovering that the association's accounting director had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from the group.
Rachel Duncan was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion and wire fraud charges. Authorities have drawn no link between Sponseller and the missing money.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.