CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County Council has fired a deputy supervisor and has frozen the spending power of the county’s supervisor after a councilmember says there was a misappropriation of county funds.
On Tuesday night, council voted to fire deputy supervisor Tim Callanan and freeze the spending power of County Supervisor Bill Peagler who refused to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Councilmembers also authorized SLED to investigate misappropriation of funds.
Councilman Josh Whitley says Tuesday’s meeting was called because council discovered that Peagler gave Callanan, who is also the county’s finance director, a check for about $50,000 which Callanan has already cashed.
Whitley said the money was for a “potential severance agreement,” and that the source of the funds would come from the next deputy supervisor. Whitley says Peagler told Callanan that council had authorized the check in executive session during a council meeting, but Whitley says that this never happened.
Whitley said Callanan was placed on administrative leave on Friday, until Dec. 3, when council discovered what happened.
In addition, Whitley said Berkeley County Public Information Officer Hannah Moldenhauer was put on administrative leave after Peagler asked her to send out a press release on the incident. According to Whitley, Moldenhauer did not feel comfortable sending the press release, and she was put on leave.
Peagler refused to attend Tuesday’s meeting since he said it was not announced correctly, meaning it violates Freedom of Information Act laws.
“The subject matter contained on the Agenda will probably result in litigation against the County,” Peagler said. “I will not be party to this.”
Peagler said the notice of the meeting violates a rule that requires a special council meeting to be called by the county council chairman or the majority of County Council by way of email or in writing.
However, a Berkeley County official said the meeting was called by a majority of County Council, so it was in line with FOIA laws.
Berkeley County posted an agenda on Monday for a special council meeting. That agenda lists the following four items:
- Termination of Deputy Supervisor Effective Immediately
- Authorization to Seek SLED Investigation of Misappropriation of Funds
- Authorization of Forensic Audit
- Freeze on Supervisor’s Authority to Expend Any County Funds
A Berkeley County official said the meeting was called to discuss whether deputy supervisor Timothy Callanan will be fired. Callanan also works as the finance director for Berkeley County.
During a county council meeting on Oct. 22, Councilman Joshua Whitley asked to go into executive session to discuss Callanan’s employment.
“Would the council give me a motion to enter executive session for the termination of deputy supervisor Callanan?” Whitley asked during the meeting.
No decision was made during the Oct. 22 meeting.