South Carolina mayor suspended after embezzlement indictment
SWANSEA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina mayor has been suspended after a grand jury indicted him on charges that he directed town funds to an account he controlled.
Jerald E. Sanders has been mayor of the 900-person town of Swansea since 2019, after serving nine years on the Town Council. The state attorney general’s office said in a news release Monday that a Lexington County grand jury indicted Sanders on embezzlement and misconduct in office.
Gov. Henry McMaster suspended Sanders after the indictments were handed down, the Post and Courier reported. Mayor Pro-Tempore Woodrow Davis will lead the town that’s about 25 miles (40 kilometers) south of Columbia.
The attorney general’s news release said that in or around December 2019, Sanders had checks totaling less than $10,000 written to him without authorization and then cashed those checks. Conviction on embezzlement would carry up to five years in prison and a fine set by the court.
The misconduct charge is a misdemeanor. It alleges Sanders wrongfully accepted town money and directed it to a bank account under his control.
Alex Postic of Columbia, one of the attorneys representing Sanders, denied the allegations against the mayor.
“We hoped that there would have been more diligence in this matter (by investigators). He’s an honest and well respected guy,” Postic told the newspaper. “I’m just alarmed that two councilmen are driving an investigation, a criminal investigation, because that’s what it looks like.”
Swansea council members Michael Luongo and Doris Simmons recently told The Post and Courier that Sanders wrote a town check to his private charitable foundation, moved around large amounts of town funds with council approval and resisted efforts by the officials to see town financial records.