Berkeley County Council votes to pay for legal help in recovering $50,000

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Berkeley County Council voted Monday night to pay for legal counsel to help recover about $50,000 which councilmembers say was misappropriated taxpayer dollars.

The meeting comes two weeks after councilmembers said they discovered County Supervisor Bill Peagler gave former Deputy Supervisor Tim Callanan an unauthorized $50,000 check which Callanan cashed shortly afterward.

During the Nov. 13 county council meeting, councilmembers voted to strip Peagler of his spending power and to fire Callanan.

Council also voted to move forward with asking SLED to investigate the incident.

“I’m sorry the position the council has been put in,” Councilmember Josh Whitley said during the Nov. 13 meeting. “I’m sorry the position the public has been put in.”

The money for the legal counsel will come from a $28,000 professional services budget, according to county council.

Whitley said spending the money on legal counsel is necessary because the public expects answers for mistakes that were made.

“I think the public expects money to be spent correctly, and I think the public expects that if the money is not that hopefully it would be returned,” Whitley said.

Peagler did not attend the Nov. 13 meeting, claiming notice of the meeting failed to comply with Freedom of Information Act laws.

Peagler was also absent from Monday night’s meeting.

A spokesperson from Berkeley County sent an email containing a document that appeared to be a note from Peagler’s doctor.

The letter said Peagler has bronchitis, so he should not be around other people which is why he would not be at Monday night’s meeting.

However, a Berkeley County official confirmed Peagler was at work earlier Monday. Peagler has also been to work several times since the Nov. 13 meeting, according to that county official.

Berkeley County officials could not provide an estimate of how much the legal help would cost because the team will be billed hourly.

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