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Inside The Escalating Becky Hill Investigation

Things are going from bad to worse for Colleton County’s clerk of court …

Earlier this week, we reported on the escalation of two ethics investigations into embattled Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill. That news broke less than a week after we reported that Hill’s son, Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill, had been arrested on one count of wiretapping for having “willfully and feloniously intercept(ed) electronic phone communication.”

That arrest appears to have been tied to an effort to keep Becky Hill abreast of the investigations into her conduct, sources close to the probe have told us.

We previously reported that Becky Hill’s cell phone was seized by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) in connection with the inquiry into her son, but the ethics cases against her are the ones drawing the most attention – especially given their potential to impact convicted killer Alex Murdaugh‘s bid for a new trial.

And there are significant developments to report this week on both of those complaints …

To recap: Hill’s office oversaw Murdaugh’s six-week double murder trial earlier this year – an international spectacle which has been referred to as the ‘Trial of the Century’ in the Palmetto State. Murdaugh, 55, a disbarred attorney and confessed fraudster from Hampton, S.C., was found guilty by a Colleton County jury of the graphic 2021 murders of his wife – 52-year-old Maggie Murdaugh – and younger son, 22-year-old Paul Murdaugh. S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case.

Jurors deliberated for less than three hours before returning their verdicts.

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Hill was the one who announced Murdaugh’s guilty verdicts to a waiting world on the evening of March 2, 2023. The following day, S.C. circuit court judge Clifton Newman handed down a pair of life sentences in the case. In early September, though, the script flipped. Murdaugh’s attorneys – led by Dick Harpootlian and Jim Griffin – dropped a bombshell motion accusing Hill of tampering with jurors who decided Murdaugh’s fate.

“Hill betrayed her oath of office for money and fame,” Harpootlian and Griffin alleged, accusing Hill of improperly influencing jurors against Murdaugh in an effort to sell copies of her book,  Behind the Doors of Justice.

Hill has denied any wrongdoing – and initial reports have pointed to there being some substance to her denials. An evidentiary hearing into the tampering allegations is likely to take place sometime in February or March of 2024. Newman has rightfully recused himself from presiding over retrial motions – meaning another judge must be tapped to handle that hearing (and potentially a second trial).

According to our sources, S.C. chief justice Donald Beatty has drawn up a list of judges and will soon choose one to inherit the Murdaugh mess. Be on the lookout for more on those moving pieces in a follow-up article …

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RELATED | INSIDE THE POST-TRIAL CHESS MOVES

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Meanwhile, back to the Becky Hill investigation(s): As we reported earlier this week, the two investigations into Hill – currently pending before the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) – could soon be referred to SLED for criminal prosecution. In fact, as I noted, sources familiar with the inquiries made it clear they believe both of Hill’s pending ethics cases “will wind up at SLED … sooner rather than later.”

This week, our media outlet received a copy of the first ethics complaint filed against Hill. We also received a detailed report on the contents of the second report – a copy of which we are working to obtain.

In the first complaint (.pdf), it was alleged that Hill engaged in “unethical behavior” and “utilized her authority, the Colleton County courthouse and taxpayer’s money outside the scope of routine court business” to promote her book as well as a book by local reporter Michael DeWitt.

“During the Murdaugh trial, clerk of court Becky Hill has unethically and potentially unlawfully used her political office to obtain and release confidential information,” the complaint noted. “She has used her office and misallocated funds to promote her book and the book written by Michael DeWitt. Hill has neglected the office of clerk of court to take several trips to promote her book and to meet with Netflix to secure her position (in its documentary). Hill’s actions have displayed she is unfit to hold the office of clerk of court.”

Specifically, Hill is alleged to have “used her political position and authority to obtain confidential information and digital images of the defendant and others during the trial.”

(Click to view)

A notary’s signature on the first of two submitted ethics complaints against Colleton County clerk of court Becky Hill. (Provided)

Those images were allegedly taken by Melissa Gordon – whom she hired during the trial as the photographer for her book. Gordon’s husband, Neil Gordon – the publisher of Augusta Business Daily – is also the co-author of Hill’s book.

Hill “permitted Gordon unimpeded access to the (courthouse) and facilitated her in taking digital images that no other citizen was permitted to have.” Gordon was “allowed into the courthouse every day of the trial, even though it was admitted there was (a) limited amount of seating for spectators.”

Several of these photos were released in Hill’s book, along with other details which – according to the complaint – “could have an adverse effect in upholding the conviction of Murdaugh in the event of an appeal.”

The complaint further alleged that Hill oversaw “guided tours of the Colleton County Courthouse during normal business hours” in exchange for “donations.” She allegedly told participants in these guided tours that their donations would be used to “replace the front windows of the courthouse.” These funds are reportedly “unaccounted for as there are no receipts being issued and it is unknown what financial institution and account the donations are being held in.”

Not only that, in one instance Hill is accused of having “ordered a staff member” to strike out the name of Colleton County on at least one $100 check and “add (Hill’s) name” as the recipient of the donation. News of this allegedly doctored check was first referenced by Lori Murray on her popular TikTok page earlier this week.

While the first complaint against Hill raises some interesting issues – and plays directly into the allegations leveled by Murdaugh’s attorneys regarding jury tampering – sources familiar with the situation say the second report is the one that could really land her in hot water.

Well, along with the ongoing eavesdropping investigation that has ensnared her son … and could soon ensnare her, too.

(Click to view)

Becky Hill (Murdaugh Trial Pool Photo)

As mentioned, this media outlet does not have a copy of that second complaint, but multiple sources familiar with its contents have confirmed it accused Hill of misappropriating public funds from multiple accounts – and then allegedly misrepresenting those misappropriations to county officials.

The second complaint was filed by a former Colleton County employee, we are told.

While I am not going to speculate on specific misappropriation allegations in the absence of a hard copy of the document, the direction of the investigation seems clear based on subpoenas reportedly issued by SCSEC investigators following their receipt of this second complaint.

According to our sources, investigators have demanded the production of records related to no fewer than seven different Colleton County accounts which flow through Hill’s office – including two accounts which contain federal funding. Those two accounts are tied to a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) child support enforcement incentive program which provides bonuses for employees who work on these cases. A separate court-administered fines and fees account is also being pored through, along with an office Xerox account, a passport fee account, a bond account and a bond licensure account.

What are investigators looking for? Again, at this point we have no information on specific misappropriation allegations related to any of those accounts – only that investigators are digging into them.

More ominously for Hill, her personal financial records have reportedly been sought by ethics investigators under a separate subpoena.

To be clear: Hill has not been criminally charged – or found to have violated ethics law – in connection with any of the investigations referenced in this report. That includes the ongoing jury tampering investigation, the criminal probe of her son or the ethics investigations into her official conduct. Obviously in the event she were to be charged, the presumption of innocence would extend to her just as it extends to anyone accused of any criminal activity.

Sources close to Hill have zealously defended her integrity, and termed the ongoing investigations as being akin to routine audits of the funds she controls. One Hill backer told us those questioning her integrity would wind up with “more egg on their faces than Dick Harpootlian after his egg juror video,” a reference to this ongoing saga related to the jury tampering probe.

Once again, count on our media outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the very latest developments related to this ongoing spinoff of the ‘Murdaugh Murders‘ crime and corruption saga. Also, be on the lookout for a follow-up report in the coming days on the latest developments in Murdaugh’s bid for a new trial.

There are some significant new developments to report on that front, as well.

In the meantime, to view the first complaint against Hill for yourself, click on the document below …

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THE COMPLAINT …

(Via: Provided)

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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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14 comments

NotSuprise December 1, 2023 at 1:02 pm

Rumors are that things like this have gone on at times even in larger circuits by employees within the courthouses

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SubZeroIQ December 16, 2023 at 5:02 pm

There are even more serious issues into which, Duffie Stone, the AG, and the courts should be conducting more investigations, specially into that juror who, according to Becky “Boo” Hill’s book, pages 58-60 got “thousands of dollars” from unnamed friends to stay on the jury instead of returning to work and getting replaced by an alternate.
Respectfully and succinctly, jury service (like voting) is NOT by conscription.
No one should be making money off voting or off jury service; nor should jury service be a paid vacation from a job.
The only possible non-corruptible (or less corruptible) way is some law for employers to grant employees paid leave for CONFIRMED jury service, which many civic-minded employers do anyway.
But what has happened here is WAY beyond the pale no matter how much lipstick is put on that pig.
Yes, you have to respond to a jury summons. But there are several mandatory and discretionary exemptions.
All that juror had to say at the initial jury selection OR as the trial went on was that jury service would impose a financial hardship on him.
Then that juror would have been excused from jury service to begin with OR he would have been replaced by an alternate. There were six alternates available. That is what alternates are for.
But for a juror to receive outside one, in the “thousands of dollars,” from unknown people is unheard of, at least by me.
I regret that you do not see this as an issue at all; but I am shocked to my core that it happened and even more shocked that Becky “Boo” Hill bragged about it.

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The Colonel Top fan December 1, 2023 at 3:36 pm

“Lawyer Lori” is a loon.

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Katie Top fan December 2, 2023 at 2:29 pm

Agree completely! When she is on Court TV or other videos, I turn it off. Can’t stand her.

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Happy Jack Top fan December 1, 2023 at 8:38 pm

The SC Supreme Court should consider assigning the Murdaugh case to The Honorable Bentley Douglas Price.

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Neil Gordon December 1, 2023 at 9:11 pm

Will, I will be reaching out to you tomorrow to suggest a retraction on some false information you are purporting as fact hiding behind the word “allegedly”. I’m a little surprised since you have my contact information you would not reach out for a comment from my wife who will refute what your unhinged, potty mouth friend is saying and you are taking as fact. By the way Lawyer Lori did not use the word allegedly yet you linked her segment. You are a party to her slander. We can also talk about the source of this complaint. Shame on you for green lighting a complaint from a twice fired sheriff’s deputy with no clue what he’s talking about and no knowledge of Becky’s action.
Perhaps I can phone in a sighting of Sasquatch and you’d print it without checking! Check your email in the morning Will. Neil Gordon, co-author “Behind the Doors of Justice

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VERITAS Top fan December 2, 2023 at 9:54 am

Agree 100%.

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SubZeroIQ December 4, 2023 at 5:47 am

This question is NOT to Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) but to that Jim Jordan (“JJ”), who claims AM was the brother JJ never had: Are $150K worth turning your back on “the brother [you] never had” AND on his son? Specially in their worst hours?
If you, JJ, did not believe AM killed Paul or Maggie, did you ever see it from AM’s side? A widower who also lost his younger son and is being falsely accused of the murders of both?
If you, JJ, were a true friend, you would have thought of Buster, at the very least.
Even as a client, no other lawyer could have, or would have, gotten for you what AM got for you money-wise, even minus the $150K AM supposedly stole from you.
You, JJ, seem very healthy and strong; and I have no way of getting the actual records of your case; but my guess is that your injury (whatever it was) was not serious enough for the money AM got for you, even minus those $150k.
Were those $150K (which you pretend you would have given AM had he asked) worth your dehumanizing him, pointing the finger at him, and insulting him with “what kind of animal are you?”?
Frankly, JJ, if I were inclined to call money-greedy people animals (which I am not), I would have wondered which of the two of you is the worse animal.

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SubZeroIQ December 8, 2023 at 12:27 pm

Veritas, read John 18:22-24:
22When Jesus had said this, one of the officers standing nearby slapped Him in the face and said, “Is this how You answer the high priest?” 23Jesus replied, “If I said something wrong, testify as to what was wrong. But if I spoke correctly, why did you strike Me?” 24Then Annas sent Him, still bound, to Caiaphas the high priest .…
Just so you know, in case you have not read it elsewhere, I PERSONALLY know the VERY PEOPLE who railroaded Alex Murdaugh (“AM”) into two wrongful murder convictions because their friends (or payors) wanted AM’s Moselle because those people are obsessed with shooting beautiful living deer for the trophy of their horns and no trophy is ever enough for them.
I respect natural, reasonable, ecology-respecting hunting for food (though I never did it); but trophy-hunting and catch-and-release I loathe.
I know those people, Hatchet-for-Hire Heather, David Fernandez, Johnny James, John Meadors, and Donald Zelenka, and their assistants and collaborators because they tried, and are still trying, to bring false criminal charges against me to wrest from me a sliver of vacant land my mother and I unsuspectingly bought in March 2009 to build on it a completely solar house for ourselves. We bought it not knowing that the City of Columbia and the adjacent property owner had run illegally and surreptitiously run their sewer lines across and underneath that lot making it unbuildable.
When I sued for them to re-route the sewer lines away from my land (very feasible at minimal cost to them), they anawered by getting me falsely arrested and made homeless at Christmas time and at risk of homelessness ever since.
I wish the people who TRIED but, thank God, failed to railroad ME into two “harassment-in-the-first-degree” wrongful convictions with an evil plan to get me sentenced to 36 years, YES, THIRTY-SIX, by non other than Judge Clifton Newman would reimburse me and my family for our costs in exposing my evil prosecutors’/persecutors’ perjury, subornation of perjury, forgeries and fabrications against me.
Your insulting what I write as “drivel” will not change the facts that I have transcripts of my own cases AND I have page citations from Becky Hill’s books. Nothing can change that.

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SubZeroIQ December 3, 2023 at 12:31 pm

Luke 19:22-23 (“I will judge you by your own words”) and Luke 6:38 (“For with the measure you use, it shall be measured for you.”)
You and Becky “Boo” claim to be religious, etc. I leave that for God to judge; but I want to ask YOU about your own words.
Fair enough?
Using the book you, “Neil Gordon, co-author[ed] ‘Behind the Doors of Justice[,]'”
for starters, page xix: “Word is from someone on the defense team that Alex had been practicing and perfecting his snot-and-crying display for weeks.”
All possibilities:
1. This is a total fabrication by you and/or your co-author.
2. You and/or your co-author were spying on “the defense team” during “the trial of the century.”
3. Alex’s “defense team” has/had at least one traitor working against Alex’s interests during and/or after the trial.
4. The juror with the borrowed coat two wide for him (“the borrowed-coat juror”) invented that story with you and/or Becky “Boo.”
5. “The borrowed-coat juror” invented that story and fed it to you and/or to Becky “Boo” after the trial but before writing the book.
6. You and/or Becky “Boo” fabricated that story and fed it to the jury, with only “the borrowed-coat juror” dumb enough to repeat it in media interviews.
7. You and/or Becky “Boo” knew your spying on Alex’s “defense team” during the trial would, sooner or later, come out; so, you sought to pre-empt that revelation by pretending Alex’s “defense team” was sending out “word” just out of the treacherousness of its own heart or, according to your theory of the world, out of contrition for defending Alex.
Which is it?
However you respond by insulting me, it will not change the fact that I am quoting VERBATIM from page xix of your and Becky “Boo’s” book.
Also a legal principle is “qui non negat fatitur,” which should not apply to a defendant in a criminal case because that defendant has no burden at all; but that principle should apply if you’re threatening a civil defamation suit againat Will Folks; and I am NOT a lawyer.
Wow, in one fell swoop, I am defending Will Folks and sending many more to buy your and Becky “Boo’s” book to look at page xix!
But that is only a by-product of my main intent: to reach the truth and exonerate the wrongly-convicted.
Respond if you can; or “qui non negat fatitur.”

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Anonymous December 4, 2023 at 8:16 am

No insults… I am a truth-seeker myself and that’s why I became a reporter back in 1990.
Just to clarify, my wife met Becky at 9:02 AM on March 1 just prior to Bekki’s trip to Moselle. I met Becky on March 23 and was discussing the book.
Oh, when you say“ we“ as to anything that occurred before the end of the trial I honestly don’t know what you mean. I honestly do not understand what you were saying about a particular juror and a coat can you please expand. Thank you, Neil.

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Neil Gordon December 4, 2023 at 8:19 am

See above please

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SubZeroIQ December 7, 2023 at 11:20 am

To the extent you sometimes post as “Neil Gordon” and other times as “anonymous,” you seem to be playing dumb to avoid responding to my my questions and analysis of the statement on page xix of the book you co-authored with Becky “Boo” Hill.
When you FIRST respond to that very direct question, I shall, God willing and FITS permitting, engage further with you.

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SubZeroIQ December 7, 2023 at 11:12 am

Just for everyone’s information, the unjustly-dismissed juror (whom you call “the egg lady”) and SubZeroIQ have never KNOWINGLY met or spoken to each other.
What needs to be “take[n] out” (to quote other commenters) are: (1) the abuse of criminal courts to gain advantages in civil litigation; and (2) the brazen obstruction of justice by prosecutors and court personnel in a blind and rabid obsession to convict the innocent and prevent the wrongful convictions from being vacated.

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