Lexington county

SLED examines Lexington Co. magistrate court money problems

tflach@thestate.comSeptember 4, 2013 

ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

— The State Law Enforcement Division is looking into reports of financial irregularities in Lexington County magistrate court.

SLED spokesman Thom Berry confirmed the investigation Wednesday, saying only that it is underway. He declined further comment.

An unnamed court worker “is no longer employed,” county administrator Joe Mergo said.

The amount in question is less than $2,000, two officials familiar with the investigation said. The officials asked to remain unidentified.

Preparation for a regular audit of court finances discovered the problem, chief county Magistrate Gary Reinhart said.

“Accounting discrepancies were discovered internally while preparing the county’s annual external audit,” he said.

It’s too soon to know if money is missing, Mergo said.

Reinhart declined further comment, including what steps, if any, have been taken to prevent the problem from happening again. Answering that “would be improper” while the investigation is occurring, he said.

There are nine magistrates in the county.

The judges handle traffic violations as well as misdemeanor offenses that have a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and $500 fine. They also handle small claims matters up to $7,500 and landlord-tenant disputes.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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