Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Georgetown County’s former economic development director is accused of taking more than $100,000 in county funds for his own personal use, according to investigators who have been working the case for more than a month.
On Wednesday, 36-year-old Wayne Gregory was arrested at his home in Columbia where he has been working as that city’s economic development director since August.
Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Carrie Cuthbertson said that office was notified about a month ago by the office of County Administrator Sel Hemingway that a number of fraudulent purchases had been made by Gregory while he was still an employee.
Gregory served as Georgetown County Economic Development Director from 2005- August, 2013.
Cuthbertson said the investigation revealed that between January 2010 and September 2013, Gregory “did use a Georgetown County purchasing card to misappropriate funds from Georgetown County.”
Investigators have determined that during his employment, Gregory was able to embezzle more than $100,000 from Georgetown County and convert said funds for his own personnel use,” she said. He allegedly used the money to purchase gift cards.
Investigators traveled to Columbia Tuesday and met with Gregory at his residence where he was interviewed.
“Investigators, with assistance from the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the Columbia Police Department executed a search warrant at Gregory’s apartment. As a result of the investigation, Gregory was arrested and charged with Embezzlement of Public Funds over $10,000.00,” Cuthbertson said.
According to South Carolina law, the penalty for embezzlement of more than $10,000 is up to ten years in prison, if convicted.
Georgetown County Public Information Officer Jackie Broach said the county cannot comment on the investigation but she did say policies are being studied to see if new safeguards need to be put in place to keep something like this from happening in the future.
She said there are already rules in place regarding the use of county charge cards by workers.
Those policies are also going to be reviewed by an external auditor, Broach said.
“We are taking this matter very seriously,” she said.
In a statement issued to the media Tuesday, Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson said Gregory has been fired. She said the Columbia’s acting police chief. Melron Kelly was notified by SLED about the situation involving Gregory.
Wilson said Columbia officials will “comply completely with SLED officials and any other law enforcement officials in any way necessary.”
She said she has directed her staff to “conduct a full internal review of all Economic Development operations conducted during Mr. Gregory’s employment with the City of Columbia.”
Gregory, who lived in Pawleys Island while working in Georgetown County, announced his resignation in July but continued working through August.
Prior to joining Georgetown County’s staff, Gregory served more than three years as the project manager for the Greenville Area Development Corporation.
While in Georgetown County, he served on the board of directors for the Waccamaw Workforce Investment Board, which works with local workforce development offices to meet the needs of job seekers and employers.
He is a past chairman of the board of directors for the Georgetown County United Way and served on the board of directors for the Lowcountry Food Bank.