Horry County Administrator's future uncertain (Update: AG absolves HCPD)

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Update February 7, 2012:The Attorney General released a statement last week that clears Horry County Police from further prosecution. The news release is below.

Conway, South Carolina— On February 2, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office released a letter stating that upon reviewing SLED’s investigation into the Horry County Police Department, it was concluded that the claims made in the anonymous letter, which prompted the investigation, lacked prosecutorial merit and declines to proceed.

Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice stated “I appreciate the efforts of SLED and the Office of the Attorney General in completing the investigation. I’m thankful this issue is finally resolved. The men and women of the Horry County Police Department do a commendable job and put their lives on the line for us every day. I’m very grateful that this cloud that has been hanging over them has been lifted.”

Update January 25, 2012:SLED has concluded their investigation and presented the file to the Attorney General's office.

Now the file will be subject to thorough review before determining next actions. WPDE has more details.

If you're wondering why this update is attached to this story, just scroll to the bottom of this story page to the first reporting and get yourself up to date.

Update November 21st: Weaver's exit is a done deal. Horry County Council still maintains the reason for the buyout is that it would be too hectic to negotiate Weaver's contract in the Spring due to budget planning and elections. 

Weaver addressed the Council at last week's meeting and he also interviewed with WMBF's Michael Maely on the News This Week program. Weaver says it is fair that he continues to be paid for the remainder of his contract because that was the choice of County Council. You can watch the videos below.

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Update November 15th: Several new sources have confirmed that John Weaver is out as Horry County Administrator after County Council voted10-2 vote to approve the seperation agreement. Under the agreement Weaver will recieve his remaining salary that he would have recieved until his contract expired in April 2012.  Weaver made the announcement that Tuesday would be his  his last night as a county employee and ounce the speration agreement is signed  Steve Gosnell who is Assistant Administrator would take over as interim county administrator.

After the council voted to approve the seperation agreement Weaver took the prodium to give his closing comments and to say that he accpeted the coucils decision and to say that we he will go home to spend more time with his family.

You can read the full story at WMBF, SCNow as well as The Sun News

Update November 15th: Weaver has come forward and acknowledged he will be "relieved of his duties"

WMBF has the scoop.

Update November 14th: Political blog S.C. Hotline reports that Weaver is already done.

According to S.C. Hotline writer Paul Gable, sources say that Weaver had an option to be bought out of his contract or fired. If it's true, then it's no surprise that he has chosen for the buyout. The write-up goes into a deeper look but different angle than my first report below. Specifically, Gable ties Weaver into the decadelong controversial Southern Holdings case. More details are here. 

S.C. Hotline has an extensive multi-part analysis of the Southern Holdings story here.

First Report: After an arduous search to finally fill the Horry County Administrator position, Horry County Council may be contemplating terminating John L. Weaver in the wake of a pending investigation that was sparked by an anonymous letter. But why?

There's tons of links and coverage about this story but the actual story isn't entirely clear why Weaver may be taking the fall. If you go back far enough, it appears that County reluctantly hired Weaver to begin with. Maybe his involvement in this latest debacle was just the last straw.

John Weaver has been employed with Horry County since he was hired as the county attorney in 2000. In 2009, he also took on the role as interim county administrator while Horry County Council embarked on a search for a full-time hire. There was some scrutiny over the salary he was taking in the interim position but the county extended his contract while they continued their search. Horry County hired an executive search firm to help find candidates. They managed to find two other interested and qualified candidates aside from Weaver. One candidate dropped out at the last minute and a 6-6 deadlocked vote saw to it that neither Weaver nor the remaining candidate got the full-time job. WMBF covered it here. A few months later (April, 2010 - just before Weaver's contract was up) two more candidates were located but Horry County Council ultimately voted Weaver into the position. Weaver tried to negotiate a three-year contract but Council only agreed to a one-year contract with an automatic second year renewal. WBTW had a brief interview with Weaver over the decision.

Fast forward to August this year when we learn an anonymous letter was distributed to members of Horry County Council and members of the Horry County Legislative Delegation. The letter makes several allegations with regards to misuse of equipment, scrubbing phone records to protect police, and theft of drugs and money from the evidence room. Based on the letter, Representative Nelson Hardwick directly asked SLED to investigate the allegations. In September, Horry County Council Chairman Tom Rice issued a written statement that said the council asked administrator John Weaver to perform an internal personnel investigation before they had any knowledge of the SLED investigation request made by Hardwick. The Sun News covered the details here.

Weaver publicly stated that he felt that the letter was originated by a member of former Horry County police officer David Joliff's family. Joliff's family denies the accusation. Jolif was forced out of contention for the Murrells Inlet magistrate position due to the efforts of a political action committee called "Preserve Murrells Inlet" that brought Joliff's checkered past to light. Joliff was nominated and recommended by Senator Ray Cleary who also serves on the Horry County Legislative Delegation. WBTW has the sordid details here. According to Horry County public records, a John L. Weaver resides in Murrells Inlet.

In early October, Weaver presented his findings and stated there was nothing to support most of the claims in the letter and the investigation should be ended based on that. The only problem was that he admitted that he did not address some of the most serious of the allegations in the letter:  the evidence room claims. Based on that, some of the Council made a motion to ask SLED to perform an audit of the evidence being held and an investigation of the evidence custody procedures currently in place . WBTW had a write-up here and The Sun News had a more in-depth look here

According to the Horry Independent, only Tom Rice and Councilman Gary Loftus wanted to end the investigation and voted against the motion of sending a request to SLED. Horry County Solicitor Greg Hembree is also not supportive of the voluntary investigation. Despite that, the motion passed and the ball is now in SLED's court. The Sun News covered that here and WPDE produced the video below.

Things have been relatively quiet since mid-October as Horry County officials wait for SLED's response and local elections grabbed our attention. That was until this afternoon when the Myrtle Beach Herald broke the story that the Horry County Council meeting agenda has John Weaver's employment as a discussion item for the closed door executive session. Statements from council members confirmed that Weaver could be terminated before his contract is up. See their brief along with a quote from Councilman Gary Loftus here. The Sun News ran coverage and some members of council make it sound like it's a simple contract review. See that here.

Why would Weaver face termination? Is it because of his dismissive attitude over the evidence room investigations? Or is this a case of Murrells Inlet politics involving a state level lawmaker coming to a head? Or is it something else? We may never know. 

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