Embattled Florence County, South Carolina sheriff Kenney Boone was indicted Wednesday on multiple public corruption charges, sources familiar with the situation tell this news outlet.
According to our sources, Boone was indicted by a statewide grand jury on one count of common law misconduct in office and two counts of embezzlement.
According to the attorney general’s release, unsealed indictments true-billed by the statewide grand jury alleged that Boone “used both county and federal funds allocated to the Florence County sheriff’s office for his own personal use.”
Wilson’s office noted that the alleged misconduct offense is a common law misdemeanor punishable by up to ten years in prison – while the two embezzlement offenses are statutory felonies punishable by up to five years in prison (apiece).
What specific funds did Boone allegedly embezzle? Good question …
Last December, we reported exclusively on allegations related to Boone’s spending of certain county drug seizure funds – although it is unclear whether those allegations are in any way related to the criminal charges that were filed against him.
According to a Facebook post from Florence deputy Alex Edwards, members of the command staff at the agency “noticed inappropriate things that were being done” several months ago. They allegedly reported what they noticed to chief deputy Glen Kirby, “who contacted SLED to request a full investigation,” according to Edwards.
“The command staff here at the FCSO has been on top of this situation for many months cooperating fully with SLED,” Edwards continued.
The language contained in Edwards’ post was reinforced by a statement disseminated by the sheriff’s office.
“From the beginning, the Florence County sheriff’s office brought the allegations supporting the indictment to the attention of SLED,” the statement noted. “FCSO has and will continue to cooperate with SLED and the S.C. attorney general’s office in the investigation and will be open for a full and complete audit of all spending by this office.”
The statement added that while the investigation into Boone was ongoing, “there is no indication that anyone else employed by the sheriff’s office was involved in any of the allegations contained in the indictment.”
Sources in Florence, S.C. tell us Boone was arrested on Wednesday morning by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The statewide agency will investigate the case, while Wilson’s office will handle its prosecution.
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Boone (above) has been in a vitriolic battle with SLED for the past year. His beef with the agency began when the 52-year-old lawman – who recently married his on-again, off-again girlfriend Anna Hovey Boone – claimed to have received death threats from his new wife’s ex-husband, Alex Curlington.
Curlington is married to a SLED agent, Genia Curlington, and Boone was livid at the agency for not firing her – and not immediately arresting her husband – in the aftermath of these alleged threats.
According to our sources, the bitter feud between Boone and Alex Curlington is ongoing – with a recent “flare-up” occurring earlier this month after an anonymous social media post impugned the integrity of the sheriff’s new wife.
“That sent the sheriff into a rage,” a source familiar with the situation told us.
Rages are nothing new for Boone. Last summer, this news outlet reported exclusively on threats he made against county finance director Kevin Yokim.
“If I don’t get a call back I’m gonna send a deputy around your house or wherever you are to find your ass,” Bonne barked at Yokim in one of the voicemail messages we obtained. “Call me now!”
After calling Yokim a “nerdy, unintelligent bastard,” Boone then told the finance director “you ain’t seen hell yet.”
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“I tell you what, you come to me (unintelligible) cause I’m gonna beat the -” Boone thundered. “Hell’s coming with me.”
The attorney general’s office declined to press charges against Boone, who was allegedly upset at Yokim for questioning him over an alleged attempt by Boone to vacation with his family on the taxpayer dime.
Boone’s response to the situation? Threatening those who criticized him …
“I assure you, and God is my witness, I will return the favor ten fold!!!” the sheriff wrote on his Facebook page, which has since been yanked offline.
As of this writing, Boone is facing four announced challengers in the 2020 election cycle. On the Democratic side, veteran law enforcement officer Jody Lynch – the 2016 Democratic nominee for sheriff – has said she is planning to run again. She will be challenged in next spring’s partisan primary elections by Frizell Moore (originally of Lake City, S.C.) and by Darrin Yarborough – a former Florence County deputy who until recently was employed as a deputy in neighboring Darlington County.
On the Republican side, Boone will face former state trooper and high school football coach T.J. Joye in next spring’s partisan primaries.
Boone’s indictment on the misconduct and embezzlement charges means he is automatically suspended from office pending the resolution of the criminal case against him. It also means S.C. governor Henry McMaster – one of Boone’s political allies – gets to appoint an interim replacement for the suspended sheriff while the charges against him are pending.
On Wednesday afternoon, McMaster named former Florence County sheriff Billy Barnes to serve in this capacity. Barnes was sheriff of Florence from 1974-1993.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Boone is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system or until such time as he may wish to enter a plea in connection with the charges against him.
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