Two weeks ago, reporter Abigail Darlington of The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier published an exclusive report detailing some scandalous and potentially illegal actions undertaken by Holy City mayor John Tecklenberg.
In her article, Darlington noted that Charleston County probate judge Irvin Condon suspended Tecklenburg on May 1 from further managing the finances of an elderly black woman named Johnnie Wineglass.
Wineglass, 92, suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. Tecklenberg – one of her former neighbors – has been handling her financial affairs ever since December 2008. In February of 2016, while the uber-liberal politician was running for mayor, Tecklenberg loaned himself $25,000 from Wineglass’ estate – without receiving prior approval from the court.
Two other loans totaling $55,000 were made in previous years – also without prior court approval.
“The transactions show apparent self-dealing,” Condon wrote in a ruling on the case. “The transactions show that John Tecklenburg made unsecured loans to himself and his family members’ businesses.”
According to Tecklenburg, two of the loans were for his wife Sandy Tecklenberg’s since-shuttered gift shop. The other loan was to cover “living expenses” while he campaigned for mayor.
Tecklenburg – who makes $180,000 a year courtesy of Charleston taxpayers – says he has paid the money back in full with interest.
“All loans were fully documented and disclosed to the probate court when they occurred, and were fully paid back on schedule with interest,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “During that time, neither Sandy nor I have profited in any way from the many hours I’ve spent managing Ms. Johnnie’s finances without compensation.”[timed-content-server show=’2018-Jan-17 00:00:00′ hide=’2018-Jun-18 00:00:00′]
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Obviously the status of the loans is important – but so is the law governing them.
In other words while it’s nice to hear Tecklenburg say he has paid off these loans – that’s not really the point.
The point is he never should have made them in the first place.
S.C. Code of Laws § 62-3-713 holds that “any transaction which is affected by a substantial conflict of interest on the part of the personal representative, is voidable by any person interested in the estate except one who has consented after fair disclosure unless the transaction is approved by the court after notice to interested persons.”
That last part is particularly applicable here: Unless the transaction is approved by the court after notice to interested persons …
Yeah … Tecklenburg skipped that step.
As a June 15 hearing on the matter approaches, we’re told Tecklenburg’s case has attracted the attention of multiple law enforcement agencies. Not only are these agencies reportedly looking at the probate statutes governing the legality of these loans, we’re also informed there may be a case to be made against Tecklenburg related to the state’s adult protection statutes (contained in S.C. Code of Laws § 43-35).
Also, Tecklenburg may not be the only person in trouble. We’re told the judge in this case might have some questions to answer after he failed to take corrective action in this matter sooner.
Bottom line? This case could quickly turn into a real problem for Tecklenburg – with real consequences.
Tecklenburg defeated state representative Leon Stavrinakis in a runoff mayoral election in November of 2015. He was sworn in as Charleston’s 61st mayor on January 11, 2016.
Stay tuned … we will be sure to provide our readers with updates in the even we receive any additional information on the case.
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