A South Carolina sheriff who had a “significant credibility problem” apparently has some big spending problems, too.
Jasper County Attorney David Tedder wrote the letter (below) to Attorney General Alan Wilson‘s office back in June to inquire about “substantial over-expenditures in several categories of appropriations to the Sheriffs Department.”
In summary, Tedder asked if Malphrus is ultimately liable for these over-expenditures not approved by Jasper County Council — and what can County Council officials do in this situation.
The sheriff is accused of overspending funds allocated for overtime, deputy salaries, equipment and other budget items, the letter said.
Assistant attorney general Cydney Milling responded to the letter on Aug. 17, saying “once County Council adopts a budget, expenditures over this amount could be viewed by a court as unlawful In violation of both the budget ordinance and… the South Carolina Constitution.”
“If a court finds the sheriff acted negligently in expending funds over the amount appropriated, he or she could be personally liable,” Milling wrote.
Here is Milling’s full letter….
How much overspending?
Jasper County Council allocated around $4.05 million for the sheriff’s office 2019-2020 fiscal year budget. The fiscal year ended June 30.
According to county documents obtained by FITSNews (below), the sheriff’s office spent more than $5.07 million in that fiscal year — more than 25 percent over budget.
A lot of these costs appear to be the result of over-hiring with huge budget deficits on matters involving staffing.
The sheriff’s office overspent more than $200,000 on overtime pay, the financial documents say.
“While there have been unexpected circumstances that have arisen this fiscal year, including Hurricane Dorian and COVID-19 related matters that affected overtime, and for which there may be future reimbursement from the federal or state governments, those items comprise only a minor part of the over-expenditures which concern Council,” Tedder wrote in the letter.
After reviewing financial documents, a few line staffing-related line items stuck out, including:
- Around $150,000 over-expenditures on salaries and wages
- Around $133,000 over budget on medical insurance
- Around $154,000 over-expenditures on police officer retirement funds.
- Around $89,000 over budget on part-time salaries.
In addition to staffing, it appears the sheriff office overspent on equipment and maintenance in the last year. Here are a few equipment line items that show spending deficits:
- Around $30,000 overspent on radio maintenance
- Around $95,000 overspent on vehicle maintenance
- Around $12,000 overspent on sheriff cars
- Around $30,000 overspent on maintenance contracts
- Around $37,000 overspent on equipment.
These line items only tell a fraction of the story. FITSNews will be looking into this matter deeper in the coming weeks to find out exactly where this tax money went and who it was spent on. We also want to know if this excessive spending has continued into the 2020-2021 fiscal year after Sheriff Malphrus lost his bid for re-election in June.
Sheriff Malphrus, elected in 2016, has a rather checkered history as a law enforcement official.
The sheriff had a “significant credibility problem” during his service as a police officer, according to a 2013 court ruling.
The order, issued by former S.C. circuit court judge Michael Baxley, found that Jasper county sheriff Chris Malphrus failed to follow the law in three separate incidents involving two black men and two Hispanic men who were stopped without reason on Interstate 95 and unconstitutionally searched.
In January of this year, this news outlet exclusively reported that an apparent ex-girlfriend of Malphrus posted on Facebook alleging misconduct, abuse of power and cheating.
The first-time sheriff also faces a slew of lawsuits since taking office in 2017.
In June, Malphrus lost a close race to democrat Donald Hipp, a former major at the Jasper County sheriff’s office and an investigator with the S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor’s office.
Jasper County chief deputy Gary Morris will face Hipp in the sheriff’s election this November.
FITSNews will be keeping a close eye on the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office as we get closer to the election. Stay tuned…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR..
Mandy Matney is the news director at FITSNews. She’s an investigative journalist from Kansas who has worked for newspapers in Missouri, Illinois, and South Carolina before making the switch to FITS. She currently lives on Hilton Head Island where she enjoys beach life. Mandy also hosts the Murdaugh Murders podcast. Want to contact Mandy? Send your tips to [email protected].
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