COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A member of the Richland County Council faced a judge Friday morning concerning a 24-count indictment alleging public corruption and misconduct in office.
A state grand jury handed down the indictment Thursday against Councilwoman Dalhi Myers.
Among the charges are misconduct in office, use of official position for personal gain, embezzlement, drawing and uttering a fraudulent check (value more than $5,000), and use of campaign funds for personal expenses.
Myers had a bond hearing at 10 a.m. Friday. (Watch it in full above.)
During the hearing, prosecutors claimed Myers traveled to Greece, Detroit, Nashville, Illinois, and Georgia on the taxpayer’s dime.
“Ms. Myers claimed for this she went on a personal trip to Greece, and she met somebody in Greece that knew about the sewer system, so she could convert the trip to be paid for by the county,” the SC prosecutor said.
On each of those trips, Myers used her Richland County purchasing card and claimed the expenses as business-related. Those expenses included airfare, lodging, and meals, the indictment alleged.
Prosecutors argued the trips were personal and should not have been covered by public funds.
The indictment further alleged Myers used her purchasing card at stores for personal items including books, clothing, gift cards, snacks and candy.
“It’s someone using it, just like all of us when we go to the grocery store, when we go to Sam’s club, it’s just personal use,” the SC prosecutor said.
The indictment said that Myers provided “false and inconsistent explanations for the expenditures to conceal the absence of any link between the expenses and legitimate government business.”
“I will point out that Ms. Myers is an attorney,” the SC prosecutor said. “She is an attorney with a great educational background, and these rules are easy to understand for people who aren’t an attorney.”
It also claimed she wrote a cold check in the amount of $27,000 to Richland County.
Prosecutors claimed during the bond hearing that this case portrays a larger issue in the county.
“Unfortunately, some of this is really endemic to Richland County,” the SC prosecutor said. “Our investigation was made harder because of the loose way that Richland County runs its financial issues.”
The prosecutor said the county tolerates improper expenditures.
“It makes it very difficult for an investigation to pursue and it needs to stop,” the SC prosecutor said.
WIS reached out to Richland County administrator Leonardo Brown, but was not able to get in touch with him. When WIS investigated Myer’s expenses in the summer, Brown told WIS he was conducting an internal investigation into the use of the P-cards.
Richland County Council Chair Paul Livingston released a statement:
“While I am disappointed in and concerned about the alleged conduct of Councilwoman Dalhi Myers, I respect the due process of law and her right to defend herself against these allegations in court. Despite this troubling situation, the Richland County Council and its hundreds of dedicated employees will continue to work hard every day to serve the public with honor and integrity. To that end, Richland County Council will review recommendations to improve the accountability and transparency in its use of purchasing cards.
Judge DeAndrea Benjamin granted Myers a $100,000 personal recognizance bond. She must also surrender her passport and hand over all county property, the judge ordered.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Myers’ attorney argued she should be allowed to drive herself to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center for processing. The judge agreed.
Myers was elected to Richland County Council in 2016.
She was defeated by Cheryl English in a runoff this November. English was set to take office in January.
In light on Myers’ indictment, Gov. Henry McMaster has suspended her from office and appointed English to serve in her place effective immediately and until “Myers is formally acquitted, convicted, the indictment is otherwise disposed of, or until January 1 when her four-year term will begin.”
Read the full indictment: