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SUMTER, S.C. (WPDE) - Kenney Boone entered a guilty plea Wednesday in a case involving misconduct in office.
Boone is charged with misconduct in office, embezzlement and campaign ethics violations, according to Jim Parks, clerk of the state grand jury. He pleaded guilty to those charges Wednesday and agreed to pay more than $16,000 in restitution. The plea was entered without a recommendation from the state; he was sentenced to five years suspended to one day of jail time -- which he's already served. He was also ordered to serve five years probation and undergo mental health and substance abuse counseling.
A state grand jury indicted him back in November on one count of misconduct in office and three counts of campaign ethics violations.
Boone was also charged in April of 2019 on a count of misconduct in office and two counts of embezzlement.
The latest indictment alleged Boone received campaign contributions and failed to put them in his campaign account or keep any record of their use and converted them to his personal use between Feb. 1, 2019, and April 24, 2019.
The indictment says Boone "cashed one-half of the check and deposited the other into his personal account where the funds in the account were not used for his office or campaign and were converted for personal use. The expenses were not accounted for by written record or receipt. The funds were never put into the campaign account. Boone also took approximately $500 out of the campaign account and put it into his personal account without reporting or receipting the expenditure and the funds were not used for his office or campaign."
The previous charges stemmed from allegations that Boone used both county and federal funds allocated to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office for his own personal use, according to a news release.
The previous indictment states Boone used funds from the Sheriff's Office Federal Narcotics Account to purchase consumer goods, "including but not limited to bicycle equipment, groceries, coolers, baseball equipment, electronics, or clothing, from various vendors including but not limited to, Academy Sports, Dick's Sporting Goods, Sam's Wal-Mart, Shell, Best Buy, Bicycle World, Rapid Weight Loss, Piggly Wiggly, Mainstream Boutique, GameStop, Mast General Store, and various restaurants..." The amount totaled less than $10,000, according to the indictment.
For the second count of embezzlement, the indictment alleges Boone used funds from the Florence County Annual Budget to purchase a variety of consumer goods, "including but not limited to window tinting, floor mats, tools, lights, cooking appliances, a cooler, and groceries, from various vendors including but not limited to, Carolina Supply House, Another Tint Shop, Leonard Aluminum, and Sam's Club..." Again, the alleged total of embezzled funds was less than $10,000.
South Carolina Assistant Deputy Attorney General Heather Weiss said Boone purchased many items for his wife and family.
"In February of 2019, he continued shopping. And items bought by the federal debit card would show up on Instagram as gifts for his wife. For use and activities of his wife. Or for use and activities of his children, including a wagon to carry items out to baseball games. He also purchased women's clothing at Mainstream Boutique. He spent over $700 at restaurants. Over $2500 at Sam's Club. And over a $1000 at Dick's Sporting Goods and Academy Sports. Over $4,000 at Best Buy. And he paid for meals in Clemson, South Carolina during family trips. The spending continued through April. When he used the card to pay for hotels and grocery in Alabama on another family trip just before his arrest," said Weiss.
The misconduct in office charge was brought because, according to the indictment, "Boone operated contrary to his duties, failing to properly administer the funds while exploiting his position for unlawful gain..."
Boone made the following statement Wednesday during his plea hearing.
"I apologize for what this had particularly done to my wife and my family. Politics is a beast. A lot of pressure within politics. Obviously, I've made wrong judgments. I'm not a thief. Respectfully, I've paid back. And I've kept receipts. Just say that to say this. What has been done. I take full responsibility obviously. I apologize to my wife. The state. Florence County Sheriff's Office. And any of those that I have, I guess, lost their trust. That's not me. I've got over 30 years of service. Which I feel like I have served the citizens of Florence County well. As Judge Ralph King Anderson said during his retirement his constitutional rights have been restored. And with this me accepting responsibility, your honor, it's a new day. I feel great. There's no doubt that I will be a better citizen. Be better for the people of Florence County. And being the person that I was leading up to before this incident happened. My family has been through a lot, your honor. There's no doubt that I think. The punishment, whatever you grant. I totally accept. But, I feel that it is necessary for the court to realize what we have been through. From ankle monitors. Embarrassing my children. Social media, media. It's been tough. And as I say, I will seek whatever it takes voluntarily. It's obvious that I've done what's right. I have not violated anything that the state-imposed. I've done exactly what they've asked me to do. The minute that the agents came, I immediately took responsibility. Absolutely I did. And I am sorry. I take full responsibility. And make restitution. Whatever we need to do. There's no doubt. I apologize particularly to the citizens of Florence County. And for those that are around the state. I've made so many friends in working together. And obviously, I apologize to SLED. I noticed that Cricket Grant's here as well. Cricket I apologize for anything that we've had. We've had our differences over the years. I am sorry about the embarrassment that I think I caused them on October 3. And when Cricket came to the scene, you remember that day you and Ed Clements came. And told me it was your jurisdiction. And I said no, Richland County is on the way. And your remarks were before you left that I would regret that. You're right. Like I say, I apologize to you. Mark Keels. You know, for what I've done. Waves that I've made. Voicing my opinion. Trying to do what's right. I accept full responsibility and I apologize."
Gov. Henry McMaster Wednesday formally removed Boone from the office of Sheriff of Florence County following his guilty plea. Sheriff William "Billy" Barnes will continue as Sheriff of Florence County until the next election.
Florence County Chief Deputy Glen Kirby released the following statement Wednesday:
“Today, a very sad chapter for Florence County comes to an end. We pray for Boone and his family, and as the new chapter begins, we look forward to meeting the challenge of rebuilding and re-earning the confidence and trust of Florence County.”
Boone walked into the courthouse accompanied by his wife.
This case was investigated by the State Law Enforcement Division and will be prosecuted by the Attorney General’s Office.