SC justices order administrator to pay back 2008 settlement
ANDERSON, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Supreme Court has tossed out a large part of a $1.1 million settlement Anderson County paid its county manager when he was let go more than 10 years ago.
The court ruled that so many Anderson County Council members should have recused themselves from the 2008 vote on Joey Preston’s severance package that there wouldn’t have been a quorum.
The ruling by Chief Justice Don Beatty says the county can ask for up to $784,000 of the settlement back, which was paid in cash and a 2006 vehicle. It can’t ask for $355,000 paid in state retirement credits for Preston.
A judge will decide what Preston pays back.
“Naturally, I’m very happy with the court’s ruling. I’m also happy that, I hope, it’s over with. It never should have taken this long,” Anderson County Council Chairman Tommy Dunn said to the Anderson Independent-Mail .
Preston is now Bamberg County’s administrator. He didn’t return a phone call or email from the newspaper.
Preston’s severance package was approved at a November 2008 Anderson County Council meeting after three of the seven members had lost their elections earlier in the month.
Preston had his lawyer reach the settlement with the county. When the new council members took office, they immediately moved to try to void it.
Anderson County spent $3 million fighting the case for the past decade. The ruling did not address the county recovering that money. The county will get back some of its legal costs from a state insurance fund, but how much is not known.
Information from: Anderson Independent-Mail, http://www.andersonsc.com