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      Governor suspends Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce

      SC Governor Mark Sanford has suspended Atlantic Beach Mayor Retha Pierce from office, following her indictment by a grand jury in Horry County Friday morning on a charge of leaving the scene of an accident with property damage.

      Pierce was arrested in April after police say she left the scene of an accident. Atlantic Beach Police say Pierce was pulling across three lanes of traffic, sideswiped another car and then left.

      Pierce contends it was the other car that left.

      The solicitor's office says the next step is to set a trial date for the case.

      The Governor's order suspending Pierce says that because she's accused of an act that involves moral terpitude, the governor is allowed by state law to suspend her until she's acquitted. The order goes on to say, "This action in no manner addresses the question of the guilt or innocence of Retha Pierce and should not be construed as an expression of any opinion one way or another on such question."

      The suspension is effective immediately.

      Pierce also faces a charge of driving under the influence by the SC Highway Patrol. Earlier this month she asked for a jury trial in the case.

      Pierce also has pending charges against her for resisting arrest and trespassing.

      Our calls to Pierce have not been returned. A spokesman tells us Pierce is saddened by the indictment and asks that people pray for her.

      You'll hear from Solicitor Greg Hembree on this case tonight on NewsChannel 15 at 6 and 7.

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