Charleston County investigators have no found no evidence to support criminal charges against the husband of county Auditor Peggy Moseley for allegedly threatening David Coe, a persistent critic, authorities said.
Coe called sheriff’s deputies to his James Island home on Thursday to report a confrontation James Moseley had with him over a campaign sign that went missing, Coe told deputies that James Moseley threatened to harm him, saying, “I am going to take care of you!! Your head should be in one of my crab pots,” according to a police report.
Deputies interviewed two witnesses who said they heard Moseley say that he “wished” he could put Coe’s head in a crab pot. Moseley did not actually threaten to harm Coe or use his head as bait, he just expressed a desire to see Coe’s head inside a pot, authorities said.
Sheriff’s Maj. Jim Brady said the statement did not rise to the level of a criminal threat and no charges are planned. Investigators informed Coe that he could take the matter directly to a magistrate if he wished to pursue it further, he said.
Coe, a 65-year-old retired boat captain, said he’s ready to drop the matter entirely. He’s already been to a magistrate twice with nothing to show for it, he said.
Coe said a magistrate told him on his first visit that a deputy’s report on the incident had been filled out improperly and failed to include Moseley’s full name and personal information. When a more complete report was provided, the magistrate told him a restraining order could not be issued against James Moseley unless threats had been made on at least two occasions, he said.
“I’m done,” Coe said. “I’ve kind of washed my hands of the whole thing.”
James Moseley could not immediately be reached for comment today. His wife has insisted that James Moseley never threatened Coe in any way.
Coe had tried to prove of pattern of threatening behavior on James Moseley’s part by shopping around copies of an affidavit filed in a 2006 lawsuit against the auditor by her former deputy, Ronald Hall.
The lawsuit alleged that Peggy Moseley defamed Hall, then wrongly fired him after she wrongly concluded that he told others about a property-tax break she had been receiving in error until late 2005. It also charged the county with negligence for failing to oversee Moseley’s allegedly wrongful actions in the firing. Moseley denied the lawsuit’s claims.
During the suit, Hall alleged that James Moseley threatened him on Meeting Street in May 2008 after a mediation session in the case. He stated in an affidavit that James Moseley drove up in a truck, cursed at him and said, “I’m gonna beat you bad.”
The lawsuit was settled in November 2008, and Hall later was hired by a different county department.
“This is a pattern of behavior,” Coe said.
Coe has been a relentless critic of Peggy Moseley since 2009, when he pushed the county to be more diligent about collecting taxes on yachts. He said more than $800,000 in county boat taxes has been collected in recent years in large part because of his efforts.
Coe often shows up at Charleston County Council’s public comment sessions to complain about Moseley.
Coe also drew attention last year to an agricultural tax exemption given to Moseley’s Johns Island residence. The county later removed agricultural tax exemptions from two parcels of property that Moseley owns on Johns Island. They also upped the taxable value of her adjacent home.
On April 20, Coe filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission stating that Moseley was seen driving her assigned county car to GOP offices to file for re-election. Moseley later reimbursed the county 16 cents for that trip.
Moseley currently is serving her fifth four-year term as auditor. To win a sixth, she must defeat two Republican opponents: former Charleston County School Board member David Engelman and former Mount Pleasant Town Councilman Paul Gawrych.
The GOP winner will face Democrat Peter Tecklenburg and possibly a petition candidate this fall.
Reach Glenn Smith at 937-5556 or Twitter.com/glennsmith5.