Friday, April 4, 2014
Wayne Gregory - Georgetown County’s former economic development director - spent about 17-and-a-half hours in jail before he was released under a bond of $5,000 Wednesday morning, according to Detention Center records.
Gregory was arrested at his Columbia home Tuesday after a month-long investigation by the Sheriff’s Office into alledged missing county funds.
He is accused of taking more than $100,000 in Georgetown County funds for personal uses, according to Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Carrie Cuthbertson.
The investigation was launched at the request of County Administrator Sel Hemingway who noted “a number of fraudulent purchases had been made by Gregory while he was still an employee,” Cuthbertson states.
Gregory served as Georgetown County Economic Development Director from 2005- August, 2013. The alleged thefts took place between January 2010 and September 2013.
He allegedly used the money to purchase gift cards.
After leaving Georgetown County, Gregory became the economic development director for the City of Columbia. He was fired from that job after the charges were filed this week.
According to South Carolina law, the penalty for embezzlement of more than $10,000 is up to ten years in prison, if convicted.
Gregory did not make any statements during his bond hearing Wednesday, according to his attorney, John Hilliard.
Hilliard said because he had a previous scheduled appointment in Columbia Wednesday, he has not yet had a chance to discuss the case and charges with Gregory.
“All I can say at this point is everyone I have talked to who know him say he is a very good guy and his reputation is impeccable,” Hilliard said.
A request has already been made for a preliminary hearing in Magistrate’s Court, Hilliard said. Sometimes those take place within three weeks of the time the request is made but Hilliard said it may not take place that soon.
County Public Information Officer Jackie Broach said the county has hired an external auditor to study the county’s policies to see if new safeguards need to be put in place to keep something like this from happening in the future.
The accusations against Gregory are very similar to a case in the late 1990s when David Parks, who was the county’s finance director at the time,
In June, 1998 Parks was charged with taking more than $74,000 for his own personal use while he worked for the county. The thefts occurred in 1994-95.
At a hearing in Feb. 1999, the court was told the money had been paid back. Parks - who reportedly used the money to support an auto racing hobby - was sentenced to two years in prison.