Berkeley County school official’s trial could be a ‘marathon,’ attorney says

Amy Kovach

The trial for the Berkeley County School District communications director accused of using her position to promote the Yes 4 Schools campaign in 2012 could start on Sept. 21, according to a Wednesday court hearing.

Amy Kovach, 44, was indicted by a Berkeley County grand jury on five charges in connection with the ballot measure, which sought voter approval to raise taxes for a $198 million school building and renovation program.

A State Law Enforcement Division investigation was requested by the Attorney General’s office in January 2013 after some Berkeley County residents raised questions about the campaign.

Kovach’s trial was set for July 27, but her lawyer, Jerry Theos, asked for it to be delayed after Kovach was hit with three additional charges last week. Circuit Judge W. Jeffrey Young ruled Wednesday that he will hear the case in Berkeley County starting on Sept. 21.

“I don’t think it would be completely unfair to make you try it on the 27th of this month, knowing the advance knowledge that you had, but just as an abundance of caution, I’ll move it out approximately 60 days,” Young said.

Theos said he has 60 to 70 potential witnesses at last count, and the state has about 30, Assistant Deputy Attorney General Creighton Waters said.

“It’s likely to be a bit of a marathon,” Waters said. “I really think this (trial) might go into a second week.”

Kovach was indicted on Feb. 11, 2014, on a misdemeanor ethics violation, followed by a felony forgery charge on Sept. 9. Perjury and misconduct in office, both misdemeanors, and a second felony forgery charge were added June 23.

The ethics violation is punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in prison. Forgery carries a penalty of five years in jail and/or a fine. Perjury is punishable by six months in prison or a fine of $100 or more, and misconduct in office carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Kovach is one of two employees indicted so far in the ongoing investigation. Superintendent Rodney Thompson was indicted on April 14 by the state grand jury on a misdemeanor ethics charge involving public corruption.

In January, Theos filed a motion saying Attorney General Alan Wilson acted unprofessionally and should be disqualified from Kovach’s case. In May, he asked to change the venue. Those motions will be heard July 31, Young said.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or @brindge on Twitter.