Last month’s arrest of Jeffrey “Colt” Hill – the son of Colleton County, South Carolina clerk of court Becky Hill – opened the floodgates of a still-unfolding rural corruption saga, one which could conceivably impact the two guilty verdicts returned earlier this year against convicted killer Alex Murdaugh.
Murdaugh’s odds for getting a new trial have never been higher … and we have yet to even fully process the fallout from this ongoing circus.
Here is what we know: Jeffrey Hill is currently facing one wiretapping count, but further charges are likely – including possible obstruction of justice charges against both him and his mother. Meanwhile, Becky Hill is staring down two ethics complaints – each of which are likely to result in criminal referrals, according to our sources. And those complaints are obviously in addition to allegations that she tampered with the jury that convicted Murdaugh of murdering his wife and younger son at the family’s hunting property near Islandton, S.C.
Last week, S.C. fourteenth circuit solicitor Duffie Stone referred the case(s) involving the Hills to attorney general Alan Wilson – asking the state’s top prosecutor to impanel a statewide grand jury to investigate “corruption in Colleton County.”
Wilson has yet to say whether he will impanel a grand jury – or who might handle the Colleton cases in the event he does (or doesn’t) . So far, all Wilson has done is “assume jurisdiction” in the matter – reserving for himself the right to handle the case personally or assign it to another solicitor.
Our media outlet has encouraged Wilson to make a decision that is “consistent with the ideals of independence and impartiality.”
While we await Wilson’s decision, further questions are being raised about Jeffrey Hill – specifically as it relates to Colleton County’s decision to allow him to return to his job as information technology director even after he bugged the phone of Meagan Utsey, his direct superior and the deputy county administrator for Colleton County.
Utsey is the wife of S.C. probate court judge Arthur Cecil Utsey IV.
Hill was suspended with pay on July 27, 2023 for “wiretapping the phone calls of your supervisor,” according to a letter sent to him on August 10, 2023. That suspension lasted four days. He was further suspended without pay for two additional weeks – and allowed to return to work after that on a “probationary status.” The name of the official who sent this suspension letter was redacted, however law enforcement sources familiar with the status of the ongoing investigation have confirmed it was written by Meagan Utsey.
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Utsey’s letter further accused Jeffrey Hill of “immoral, unlawful or improper conduct or indecency,” among other things – but did not elaborate on the alleged immoral conduct.
“Your actions reflect poorly on yourself and this agency,” Utsey noted.
On November 22 – the day after our Andy Fancher exclusively reported on Hill’s arrest – he was finally fired by the county. This time, the letter was written by Colleton County administrator Kevin Griffin, who expressly referenced “sexual and other forms of illegal harassment” in notifying Hill of his termination. According to Griffin, this alleged harassment was uncovered during Hill’s “probationary” period.
Griffin also referenced Hill’s wiretapping of Utsey, accusing him of “gross misconduct” as an employee of Colleton County.
According to our investigative sources, Utsey was the target ofJeffrey Hill’s harassing behavior – including multiple alleged instances of “sexual harassment” spanning several months. However, these sources said Utsey never used the term “sexual harassment” in describing Hill’s alleged conduct – but rather said he had been engaging in “stalking behavior.”
Utsey did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
A copy of Hill’s personnel file was obtained by this media outlet under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). It is not immediately clear why Utsey was asked to write the first letter notifying Hill of his suspension – or why Griffin wrote the termination letter following his eventual arrest.
Count on this media outlet to keep our audience up to speed on the latest developments in this ongoing investigation.
THE FILE …
(Via: Colleton County)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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