2022 In Review: The top investigative stories of 2022

The top investigative stories from 2022.
Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 1:15 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - In 2022, the Live 5 Investigates team dug into some of the state’s most complicated, controversial and, in some cases, covered up stories.

High-ranking Charleston County Sheriff’s Office official fired

In April, the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office fired Chief Deputy Joyce Smith.

The reason on paper, for the firing, was Smith’s outstanding student loans. An investigation revealed Sheriff Kristin Graziano knew about the loans a year earlier when she recruited Smith for the job.

In an ongoing lawsuit, Smith claims her firing was an act of retaliation for attempting to bring allegations of inappropriate sexual comments from her male co-workers to the sheriff’s attention.

READ MORE: Charleston employment attorney breaks down SC’s student loans law after deputy’s firing

In the lawsuit, she also claims the sheriff gifted her and a secretary “mammy” dolls. The Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, located at Ferris State University in Michigan, states the dolls are one of the most enduring caricature portrayals of African America women.

Smith calls the student loan issue an attempt to cover up the dysfunction in the office.

Court docs: Man on house arrest visited golf courses 19 times, restaurants, went shopping

Also in April, Bowen Turner, 19, of Orangeburg, faced multiple sexual assault accusations in multiple counties, court documents stated.

Court documents state that after Turner’s second arrest, he was denied bond. A few months later, he was granted bond, but the judge ordered Turner wear a GPS monitor and go on house arrest. He couldn’t have visitors and couldn’t leave except to see his attorney, for mental health appointments or for medical emergencies.

Turner’s GPS monitor showed he visited dozens of different places, including 19 trips to golf courses, as well as outings to restaurants, sporting goods stores and even a car dealership, according to court documents. The GPS monitor showed him taking trips to Columbia, Graniteville and even crossing state lines to Brunswick, Georgia, documents state.

READ MORE: Attorney for teen accused of multiple sexual assaults: Depression led to bond violations

One of the alleged victims would later commit suicide while the other two waited for justice.

Turner would plead down the charges to assault and battery and be given less than a year of probation.

The punishment would later be suspended after Turner violated the terms of his probation.

Turner was then required to register as a sex offender and is currently behind bars facing new charges related to the violations.

A gun store prank gone wrong

In August, a prank gone wrong at a Berkeley County gun store left a man dead.

The store’s owner, Jon Whitley, shot and killed employee Stefan Mrgan. Whitley thought he was wielding a fake gun.

Despite the incident and a fine from OSHA for mishandling firearms, the store reopened just two days after the shooting.

Charleston Co. Man sues Lowe’s after losing part of finger in garden shears accident

In September, a man sued the Lowe’s Home Improvement store on James Island after a gruesome accident left him missing part of his ring finger.

READ MORE: GRAPHIC: Charleston Co. Man sues Lowe’s after losing part of finger in garden shears accident

The lawsuit alleges the store places the shears on the ground without any protective blade coverings.

The man was rushed to the hospital where the finger was saved, but not without a nasty scar. The case is still pending.

A homeowner’s nightmare

It’s every homeowner’s worst nightmare. You hire a contractor for a job, and they take the money but the work is never completed.

A James Island couple hired Travis Tardiff of Tardiff Builders to renovate their deck for $15,000.

After writing a check to get the ball rolling, the work was never started and the contract was dissolved months later.

The couple never got their money back.

An investigation revealed Tardiff’s contractor license had expired six months prior to taking the job.

Tardiff was later arrested and charged with breaching a contract.