The mayor of Swansea, South Carolina — a small town of roughly 1,000 people in rural Lexington County — has been indicted by a grand jury on embezzlement and misconduct charges, according to South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson‘s Office.
Jerald Sanders, 71, was charged with embezzlement of public funds less than $10,000, a felony, and misconduct in office, a misdemeanor.
According to the indictment (below), Sanders allegedly had checks written to him without authorization and then cashed in those checks around December, 2019.
He’s accused of “wrongfully accepting funds from the Town of Swansea and wrongfully depositing” those funds between December 2019 and January 2020.
He was officially indicted on July 12.
Sanders was elected in 2017 and was seeking a second term as of last week, FITSNews founding editor Will Folks reported last week.
In addition to allegedly misappropriating public funds, Sanders had been accused of attempting to conceal evidence of these misdeeds – prompting SLED to embark on what The Lexington Ledger called “a yearlong attempt to gain access to and review town of Swansea financial records.” The Ledger has been reporting on this saga for months.
It’s not known if Sanders could face more charges.
Sanders faces up to five years in prison for the embezzlement charge.
For the misconduct in office charge, Sanders could face up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. There is no mandatory sentence for the offense — which FITSNews founding editor Will Folks has argued against.
“The Palmetto State hasn’t had a real overhaul of its ethics laws in three decades … it is frankly past time that overhaul took place,” Folks wrote. “It is also past time for real teeth to be added to these laws, so that the public can have restored faith in the impartiality of our criminal justice system.”
A 2019 Post and Courier investigation found that nearly half of South Carolina officials who were charged with misconduct in office since 2000 were not convicted of the crime.
Following the indictment Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster suspended Sanders from office.
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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