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Swansea Mayor Jerald Sanders reportedly indicted after SLED & AG’s Office investigation

Swansea, SC 06/06/2021 (Paul Kirby) – The Town of Swansea’s Mayor Jerald Sanders has reportedly been indicted or will soon be indicted by a grand jury over the misappropriation of town funds, according to a Swansea town councilmember. Several Swansea town councilmembers say they have been told by SLED that it is now okay to speak publicly about the investigation. As of 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, Swansea Town Councilman Michael Luongo said he did not believe the mayor had been taken into custody as of yet.

For the past several years, SLED has been looking into the town’s finances. Several members of the council and previous employees of the Town of Swansea have charged that Mayor Sanders misused public funds and then did everything he could to hide records that would prove these allegations.

Several times, members of the town’s council had to make an appointment through Sanders in order to attempt to look at any detailed financial records for the Town of Swansea. On the date and time of that appointment, Sanders always seemed to have some reason why it would have to be postponed or rescheduled. “At one point, he said we could come look at the financial records on a Monday,” Councilmember Doris Simmons said in a past interview. “When Monday rolled around, we showed up with the attorney we retained only to be told that Sanders had forgotten that it was a government holiday, and all the office staff was off. We were turned away that day and that is just one example of what was going on,” according to Simmons.

Simmons, an accountant herself, said last year that Sanders had tried every possible trick to hide what was going on with the people’s money. “He’d do things like give us a bank statement with no corresponding checks to look at. You could see on the statements the check number, the date it cleared the bank, and the amount it was written for, but that was it. When we asked to see the check register, we’d either be ignored or would have to set up another meeting through the mayor. Then, he would put that meeting off over and over again,” Simmons explained. “The check register would have shown us who each check was written to and for what amount. That’s what we wanted to see and what he was working so hard to hide,” Simmons concluded.

During the investigation, SLED agents had asked the other members of the council not to go public with any information they had even though some details of the allegations had already leaked out, according to councilmembers Simmons and Luongo. Both councilmembers told us that those agents said that keeping the details of the investigation quiet would help them to complete an impartial investigation.

In the spring of 2020, a representative of The Lexington Ledger spoke with Mayor Sanders by phone about some improprieties that had publicly come to light. During that interview, he was specifically asked about rumors that a town check had been written to a private charitable organization that was organized and led by Sanders. At that time, several of the councilmembers said that the donation to that group had never been discussed or approved by the council. Sanders said in answer to our questions, “The people of the town wanted me to have that money and there’s nothing wrong with that.” When asked when the council had approved the donation, the mayor said he couldn’t remember the exact date of the meeting or whether it had been included on an agenda for any of the town’s public meetings.

In that same interview, Mayor Sanders charged that several of the councilmembers and another member of the local media were simply out to get him. “They came in the door attacking me and they have been attacking, attacking ever since. They don’t want to see the town do good; all they are interested in is tearing me down.”

Councilmembers Simmons and Luongo have said that some of the town’s employees were believed to be helping he mayor with his efforts to hide records of spending. As of Tuesday afternoon, there was no word on whether any particular employee was being looked at in conjunction with the investigation.

One council member now says that Sanders had been given a chance by agents last Friday to meet with them to turn himself in to face these charges. “It is my understanding that he didn’t show for that meeting.” The town of Swansea has a special called meeting scheduled for Tuesday afternoon. It remains to be seen if the mayor will show up and if so, what actions could be taken against him.

This is a developing story. We will update as more information becomes available.


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