Crime & Courts

Lowcountry South Carolina Corruption Scandal Expands

Beaufort County, South Carolina investigation casting a wide net …

Late last month, the top bureaucrat in one of South Carolina’s largest, wealthiest and fastest growing counties was ousted from his position.

The termination of Beaufort County administrator Eric Greenway was issued “effective immediately” and effectuated “with cause” following a closed-door executive session of Beaufort County’s elected council on July 28, 2023.

What did Greenway do? As of this writing, it’s not immediately clear. County leaders haven’t said, and police and prosecutors investigating him haven’t commented, either. However, his termination came less than forty-eight hours after a woman he is alleged to have sexually harassed – and then targeted for retaliation when his overtures were rebuffed – went public with her story.

So, there’s that

Lisa Lynch – former Beaufort County wellness director – accused Greenway of making multiple romantic advances toward her, which she rejected. Greenway then attacked her professionally when she decided to enter into a relationship with another man, Lynch alleged. Lynch also brought receipts to the table – namely text messages in which Greenway appeared to threaten her with retaliation after she appeared at a county function in May of this year with her boyfriend.

(Click to view)

Lisa Lynch (Provided)

Lynch was later subjected to workplace harassment – and eventually fired from her position with the county.

Last week, Lynch offered to settle with the county for the amount owed to her under the law – along with her immediate reinstatement to the position of wellness director. Lawyers representing the county rebuffed her offer, according to Lynch’s attorney – Tim Lewis of Charleston, S.C.

The allegations raised by Lynch – and the accompanying receipts – are part of an ongoing criminal misconduct in office probe involving Greenway. That inquiry is currently in the hands of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – with agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) heading up the investigation with support from Pascoe’s office.

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing county investigation into any number of alleged misappropriations tied to Greenway in his capacity as administrator – the top appointed post in county government which had been paying him a salary of more than $210,000 annually, not counting benefits, prior to his termination.

What is the status of these two inquiries?

As our audience will recall, a May 2023 Beaufort County sheriff’s office incident report (.pdf) obtained by this media outlet earlier this summer alleged misconduct in office involving Greenway between January 9, 2023 and May 11, 2023. We subsequently confirmed the initial date referenced in the report was tied to contractual dealings between Beaufort County and a company called Elementzal LLC – a company run by Lynch and her sister-in-law, Angie Hassinger.

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The criminal inquiry into Greenway has since “snowballed,” according to a source familiar with its status. Investigators have reportedly obtained evidence of “extensive misconduct” on the part of the former administrator – as well as multiple other county employees.

One employee described as a person of interest in this “snowballing” probe? Deputy county administrator Whitney Richland – Greenway’s right-hand bureaucrat. Another? County attorney Brittany Ward.

As this news outlet previously reported, in April of 2023 the county purchased nearly $36,000 worth of “weighted blankets” from a family business tied to Richland. This dubious purchase is one of several irregular expenditures investigators are eyeing, according to my sources.

“Many more” such expenses have been uncovered, a source close to the probe said.

Additionally, investigators have reportedly heard from multiple witnesses who claim Greenway and Richland “threatened at least one other county employee who questioned their actions in regards to fiscal irregularities and/ or questionable financial transactions.”

One employee was specifically told “not to speak to (county) council or (the) sheriff … about any of their concerns.”

“They intimidate employees,” a source close to the probe confirmed, referencing these allegations.

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RELATED | LOWCOUNTRY ADMINISTRATOR REMOVED FROM OFFICE

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Multiple county employees are cooperating with the expanding investigation, our sources indicated. And solicitor Pascoe reportedly instructed law enforcement agents at a recent meeting to follow the alleged impropriety “wherever it leads.”

Investigators are also tracking the internal investigation being run by the county to make sure they don’t miss anything.

Last month, the county announced it was hiring an outside firm to initiate “a thorough review of all purchases that have occurred since January 1, 2023, to confirm that those purchases comply with the County’s procurement codes, to identify any purchases that do not comply with County’s procurement codes, to bring to Council those that do not comply, and to provide a description of the discrepancies.”

A similar review has been requested for “all contracts for professional services which the County has entered into since January 1, 2023,” and an audit is being undertaken of the County’s P-Card system for the fiscal years 2019-2020, 2020-2021, 2021-2022, and 2022-2023.”

Once again, as of this writing no county officials have been implicated in any criminal activity. Assuming the forthcoming investigation yields credible allegations of misconduct, it would then be up to a grand jury to determine whether probable cause existed to charge anyone criminally – at which point they would be entitled to avail themselves of our criminal justice system.

As always, this news outlet has an open microphone policy in the event anyone with an intelligent take on this – or any story we cover – is welcome to share their perspective with our audience.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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