The state grand jury has indicted Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone, who is facing charges of embezzlement and misconduct in office.
South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced Boone's indictment on April 24. Boone, who is in his fourth term as sheriff of the Pee Dee county, was hit with two counts of embezzlement and one count of misconduct in office. The embezzlement charges are felonies and each carries up to five years in prison, while the misconduct charge is a misdemeanor that could carry up to 10 years in jail.
Wilson's office says Boone is accused of using county and federal funds for personal transactions. The state Law Enforcement Division investigated the case.
The state grand jury's indictments allege that Boone used Florence County Sheriff's Office federal narcotics account money to buy a host of "consumer type" items, including bicycle equipment, groceries, coolers, baseball equipment, electronics and clothes. Some of the shops where the money was spent include Academy Sports, Dick's Sporting Goods, Sam's, Walmart, GameStop, Mast General Store, Piggly Wiggly and various restaurants.
The indictments allege items purchased at those places were for Boone's "personal use."
The grand jury also alleges that the sheriff used money from the county's annual budget to make personal purchases such as window tinting, floor mats, tools, lights, cooking appliances and other items from establishments such as Carolina Supply House, Leonard Aluminum and elsewhere.
"Despite being charged with the good-faith administration of the funds allocated to the Florence County Sheriffs Office, including, but not limited to, state, federal or county funds, Boone operated contrary to his duties, failing to properly administer the funds while exploiting his position for unlawful personal gain and did, by malfeasance, misfeasance, and nonfeasance, commit acts and omissions in breach of his duty of good faith, honesty, and accountability to the public," the indictment reads.
Subsequently, Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order suspending Boone, citing state law that a governor shall suspend any officer of the state or its cities or counties who has been indicted for embezzlement or a "crime involving moral turpitude."
The governor installed Williams Barnes as sheriff until Boone's case reaches its conclusion. Barnes was sheriff of Florence from 1974-93 and had recently been serving as the department's polygraph examiner.
It is perhaps unsurprising that a sheriff in a South Carolina county has been indicted. After all, sheriffs here often find themselves in hot water. Boone makes the 12th Palmetto State sheriff in roughly the past decade to be accused of crimes.
The most high-profile recent instance of a Midlands sheriff getting into a legal jam came in 2015, when longtime Lexington Sheriff Jimmy Metts was sent to federal prison for a year. Metts, who was Lexington's top cop for 42 years, colluded with a town councilman and a local restaurant owner to help undocumented immigrants avoid processing in a federal immigration program at the Lexington County Detention Center. Metts was released from prison in 2016.