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Colleton County Corruption Investigation Headed To Statewide Grand Jury?

Another escalation of the Becky Hill saga …

South Carolina fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone confirmed today that his office has sent a letter to S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson requesting the statewide grand jury – which Wilson administers – to investigate the criminal case against Colleton County information technology director Jeffrey “Colt” Hill.

As our audience is well aware, the criminal investigation into Hill is said to be closely tied to the escalating ethics allegations into his mother, Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill.

In fact, sources familiar with Stone’s request indicated the panel could be tasked with handling all future criminal referrals related to Becky Hill – which could pose a huge ethical dilemma for Wilson’s office.

Stone made the request of Wilson after a joint public corruption task force run by his office – and the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe – found sufficient evidence to refer the matter. Stone told us he sent the matter to Wilson because the statewide grand jury can compel sworn, secret testimony – thus making this “the best possibility for a full investigation” of all of the allegations.

Stone specifically referenced the allegations against Becky Hill as potentially falling under the statewide grand jury’s purview. He also said his office stood ready to provide Wilson with whatever support it deemed appropriate.

In a letter to the attorney general, Stone cited an ongoing investigation by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) into “potential public corruption in Colleton County.”

“I am formally asking that you impanel the state grand jury to continue this investigation,” Stone wrote.

Take a look …

(Click to view)

Letter from S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone to attorney general Alan Wilson referring a potential public corruption case in Colleton County, S.C. to the statewide grand jury. (S.C. Fourteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office)

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HOW WE GOT HERE …

To recap: Hill’s office oversaw convicted killer Alex Murdaugh’s six-week double homicide 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.

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).

SLED agents are also currently investigating the jury tampering allegations.

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On November 21, 2023, our outlet reported that Jeffrey 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 also 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 Murdaugh’s bid for a new trial.

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THE ETHICS COMPLAINTS …

Colleton County Clerk of Court Becky Hill. (Pool)

There are currently two investigations into Hill pending before the S.C. State Ethics Commission (SCSEC) and sources familiar with the inquiries have indicated they believe both of Hill’s pending ethics cases “will wind up at SLED … sooner rather than later.”

Last 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.”

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.

For more on the investigation into Becky Hill, click this post …

Stay tuned for an update on this developing situation from our founding editor Will Folks, who plans on addressing the potentially glaring conflicts of interest associated with the statewide grand jury and SLED handling the investigation into the allegations against Becky Hill.

UPDATE | THE LATEST

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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Will Folks

14 comments

Reader Top fan December 4, 2023 at 3:01 pm

Well well well, this is what happens when people get too big-headed and let the 15 seconds of fame go to their head. It’s happened to every person on this case. Can we discuss nepotism within the State of South Carolina as well. How was her son even able to ethically hold that position? The law applies to all of us, but not those people. Time for everyone to shut their bobble head shops and bands down.

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Goody3 Top fan December 4, 2023 at 3:28 pm

I Have noted the escalating disappointment on Jenn’s and Will’s faces and their obvious conflicting emotions since these allegations were made. It takes some strong dedication to their craft to maintain objective conversation and reporting in these natters – they have each commented re the strong bonds forged among the 3 of them during (the first?) Murdaugh trial. In my estimation, both Jenn and Will have maintained unquestioned objectivity and remained an “innocent-til-proven-guilty” perspective.

It cannot be an easy assignment.

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Amy Engstrom Top fan December 4, 2023 at 4:11 pm

A family annihilator is gonna end up walking free one day and it’s gonna be thanks to Becky Boo here! Whether she talked to the jury about Murdaugh or she didn’t, her reputation is now shot and when all the other allegations about her turn out to be true, they’ll be forced to find that the jury tampering may likely have happened as well. So that one part could be complete BS made up by the defense and a single juror with a grudge but it will work, because this woman is so damn shady. It sure seems that anyone who managed to get some sway in the low country ended up abusing their power. But Alex Murdaugh still takes the cake as the worst of them all as he’s a family killer too. I do hope that what that man did to his own wife and son doesn’t get lost in this mess. Dammit, Becky…

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Obamaroid Ointment December 4, 2023 at 6:09 pm

Harpootlian and Griffin tag team can’t be cheap, who’s paying them? Buster?

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JustCallMeAva Top fan December 5, 2023 at 7:38 am

Since Buster was seen shopping at Big Lots (may have been Ollies, but absolutely down market for a Murdaugh), I doubt he’s the one paying for it. Someone is. But who?

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Katie Top fan December 4, 2023 at 8:20 pm

Will, loved your interview with CourtTV today. Always enjoy and appreciate the entire team’s work on news across the state. Glad you’re representing South Carolina.

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J Monday Top fan December 5, 2023 at 7:34 am

This is a witch hunt, compliments of Dick Harpootlian & his old pal Duffie Stone. Question is, who will investigate them? There is your real story. Someone dared to cross a Murdaugh & challenge their criminal, corrupt behavior. Nothing in any of this will change the fact that Alex Murdaugh murdered his family in cold blood & made off with millions of dollars of client money.

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CongareeCatfish Top fan December 5, 2023 at 11:36 am

Becky knew full well the decades of corruption and power behind the Murdaughs and their firm, and the fact that dark forces working on their behalf in the background would be working their full briefcase of dirty tricks to get to the jury and other witnesses and do their own secret squirrel stuff. With that knowledge she likely decided it was time to take a page from The Untouchables and work the angles to try to cut it off…but unfortunately took it too far and may have screwed the whole trial outcome.

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SubZeroIQ December 5, 2023 at 3:10 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.”)
After reading Neil Gordon’s threat to Will Folks on another thread on this blog; and after hearing Neil Gordon yesterday on Court TV, this is addressed to him:
You, Neil Gordon, 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-sizes 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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VERITAS Top fan December 8, 2023 at 9:32 am

Who is paying you for your subzero IQ drivel?

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SubZeroIQ December 8, 2023 at 12:14 pm

It is Christmas, not Easter, season; but the best response to your cruelty to me comes from quoting 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.
But what have I done to YOU for you to be so cruel to ME?

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Thomas O'Brien Top fan December 6, 2023 at 4:43 pm

Duffie Stone Needs to be Thoroughly Investigated BY SLED as to His and his Staffs Involvement into the attempted Cover-Up of the Boat Crash!! ADD PJ Tanner to it!!

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SubZeroIQ December 16, 2023 at 4:58 pm

To the contrary, 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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VERITAS Top fan December 8, 2023 at 9:23 am

Duffie Stone is a huge problem in the mix of Harpo’s and Griff’s smoke and mirrors ploy to completely discredit the entire judicial process. Stone’s friendship and working relationship with AleX is well known.

When did the HarpoGriff defense team ever cry judicial system misconduct or tampering when they WON a case? NEVER. The AleX Murderer defense team is abusing the system. Their case failed because the prosecution’s evidence was overwhelming. The kennel video, the digital footprint data sealed the deal, along with AleX’s repeated lies.

AleX was a major player in the South Carolina criminal world, and illicit drugs were even delivered to law offices, said his money-launderer Curtis E. Smith. AleX used prostitutes while using cocaine and other illegal drugs, as evidenced by an interview produced by FITSNEWS, where the interviewee stated there were law enforcement and other lawyers involved. Blanca stated that there were drugs “everywhere” and was uncomfortable talking about that.

There is more that we don’t know than what we do know about AleX Murdaugh and his completely dysfunctional, depraved and criminal mindset and acts. He remains a danger to anyone he comes in contact with. The most effective means of keeping him locked up in South Carolina for the rest of his life is to never let him fade from public scrutiny, to keep searching for the full truth about his lifetime of criminality that is buried deep in South Carolina soil. And he used his law license to do it all.

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