MONCKS CORNER, SC (WCSC) - Newly-released documents in the resignation of Berkeley County’s former deputy supervisor show he threatened legal action against the county if council members voted to fire him or make “disparaging comments” about him.
Tim Callanan emailed county council members on Nov. 13 to state he had signed a severance and release of claims agreement with the county.
“In return for waiving my rights to bring certain legal action against the County, among other considerations, it stated that I will be on paid administrative leave until December 3, 2018,” he wrote of the agreement. “As such, would entitle me (under the policies of Berkeley County) to receive benefits up until and including December 31, 2018. The agreement also includes a mutual non-disparagement clause.”
Callanan wrote that if county council voted to terminate his employment and/or chose to make disparaging statements about him, it would be in breach of the agreement and he “will be forced to seek legal remedies.”
Callanan sent the email to council members hours before Berkeley County Council voted to fire him.
Councilman Josh Whitley said a Nov. 13 meeting was called because council discovered that Berkeley County Supervisor Bill 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.
Council members have since voted to hire legal help to get the money returned.
A just-released copy of a check issued as severance to Berkeley County’s former deputy supervisor shows he took home nearly $30,000 after taxes and deductions. The check, issued on Nov. 7, was made out to Callanan in the amount of $29,602.08, showing a $49,900 payment of earnings and a year-to-date total of $147,609.11.
On the same night county council voted to fire Callanan, it voted to freeze Peagler’s spending power. Peagler did not attend that county council meeting.
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.
Council members authorized the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to investigate the allegation of misappropriation of county funds.