SLED investigating Allendale County 911 and citizens believe more needs to be investigated
Thursday, March 30, 2017
ALLENDALE COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A 911 director is under investigation after money allegedly goes missing from the poorest county in South Carolina. SLED confirms they're investigating Allendale County's 911 office for misappropriating funds. Some citizens believe the state needs to start another investigation too after the 911 director's father resigned his position on county council to become the new county administrator.
Allendale County is the between Augusta and Hilton Head. "We've got a wonderful community here." Kathy Tharin said. She is a lifelong resident of Allendale County. She has always been proud of her home county but recently she has felt more concern than pride. "It's frustrating. We've heard things and we've heard things that don't really jive," Tharin said.
Her concern comes from what she's heard in county council meetings. In a special called county council meeting, not posted in the newspaper, four days before Christmas at 3pm, the chairman of Allendale County Council, James Pinkney, resigned and then minutes later became the new county administrator.
"I'm going to be honest with you. It looks fishy," Tharin told county council in January. "Just going off of county council and going into this county administrator position, I just had some questions," she said.
Several residents voiced concerns at the first county council meeting after the special called meeting. "Many citizens in the county I have spoken to don't understand how the council could hire this position without posting the opening," a citizen asked the council. The council replied to her that they were not required to advertise.
"Who else was interviewed and is he the best fit for this position?" Tharin also asked. "He certainly has manager experience 20 plus years. He worked the last two years on the budget process," William Robinson answered.
The job description for the county administrator includes administrator experience plus a minimum education of a master's degree. On Your Side requested James Pickney's resume and application but the county attorney told us there isn't one on file.
What we do know about Pickney is that he served on county council as well as the finance committee for years. We also know his daughter, Louise Pickney is the 911 director of Allendale County and SLED is investigating her office for allegedly misappropriating money.
On Your Side tried to talked to James Pickney but he told his receptionist to tell us to call the county attorney. He would not come out of his office."
As the new county administrator, James Pickney is now his daughter's boss which is which is prohibited in the county employee manual.
"There seems to be some sort of conflict of interest." Tharin said. She believes the state needs to do a forensic audit of Allendale County.
SLED will not comment into the investigation into the 911 office since it is an open case. Louise Pickney currently remains in her position as the 911 director of Allendale County and her father, James Pinkney, continues to supervise her as the county administrator.