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Sheriff tells Florence County Council he is ‘kind of like the scapegoat’

December 14, 2018
Sheriff Kenney Boone speaks to the Florence County Council.
Sheriff Kenney Boone speaks to the Florence County Council.

FLORENCE, S.C. – At Thursday’s meeting of the Florence County Council, Sheriff Kenney Boone addressed the accusations that have been made against him.

Boone, who has been Florence’s sheriff since his 2004 election, asked for and received permission to address the council after the council considered and the approved the addition of four school resource officers at the sheriff’s department. The officers will be paid by a grant from the South Carolina Department of Education and sheriff’s office funds. According to county code, two council members must request that Boone be allowed to address the council. The two council members that asked for Boone were Vice Chairman Willard Dorriety and H. Steven DeBerry IV.

Boone began his comments by saying he supports his officers and that he is going to fight for them. He had asked for an increase in salary for the employees at the previous meeting.

A meeting has been scheduled on Dec. 19 for the Justice and Public Safety Committee of the council regarding the salary increases. The members of that committee are DeBerry, who serves as chairman, Waymon Mumford and Jason Springs.

“I realize there’s things that have happened, and I understand that,” Boone said. “You know, things that have been said. Social media is one of the worst things I think they ever created. You know, I’m being accused of things that are not true. Just like you, if you were in my position, you’d be tired of it as well. I’m kind of like the scapegoat.”

A South Carolina blog reported that there is some scrutiny over the use of funds from civil asset seizures.

Boone addressed that issue by saying that he was prevented by law from spending that money on salaries, but he would give the money to his officers if he could.

“I appreciate your support,” Boone said. “You know, I just ask that I be treated fairly. From this day forward, you know, I’m going to treat you fairly as well.”

Boone said social media was “something” and was “the downfall of this country.”

“Just like [County Finance Director] Kevin [Yokim] and his wife, Kim, you know, they have run me into the ground,” Boone said. “... I don’t want the relationship that we have dictating what you guys do if any of these guys are using me as an excuse as far as finances go.”

As Boone spoke, Yokim shook his head.

Boone ended his appearance by saying he looked forward to continuing to work with the council. He also asked that the council converse with the officers in the sheriff’s office to learn more about their situations.

After Boone’s appearance and the completion of the agenda at the meeting, Yokim responded. The two council members who asked that he be allowed to speak were DeBerry and James Schofield.

“I’ve been finance director for almost 23 years,” Yokim said. “I’ve been attacked by various elected officials. That’s part of the job. It goes and it comes.”

Yokim said he didn’t have a choice but to respond to the sheriff’s comments about his wife.

“If the sheriff thinks or says that my wife and I are on social media, that we’re out there, that’s completely untrue,” Yokim said. “Go find a post on social media where we’ve said that.”

The county council responded to both men after Yokim’s comments.

Councilman Mitchell Kirby said he was going to offer a special prayer for resolution of the situation.

He added, “We know what’s going on, Kevin.”

“Mr. Chairman, I’d just like to say that I support our finance director 100 percent,” Councilman H. Steven DeBerry said. “He was just doing his job.”

Council Chairman Kent Caudle and Dorriety agreed with DeBerry.

“Everybody knows we have no control over what people do with their personal time or their personal business, but we’d like for it to cease and desist,” Caudle said.

Boone was previously investigated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division for comments he made that allegedly threatened Yokim. The office of South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, whom Boone endorsed in this year’s election, elected not to charge Boone with a crime in the matter. Wilson did not have any apparent involvement in the decision beyond signing off on it.

The alleged threats stemmed from an email exchange between Yokim and Boone regarding an expenditure submitted by Boone regarding a hotel stay during a conference in Myrtle Beach. In one of the voicemails, the person who identified himself as Boone made mention of sending a deputy to Yokim’s home if the person was not immediately called back.

In another voicemail, the person who identified himself as Boone referred to Yokim as an “nerdy, um, intelligent bastard” and questioned why Yokim was questioning the expenditures.

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