FILE - Swansea Mayor Jerald Sanders

Swansea Mayor Jerald Sanders

(The Center Square) – Swansea Mayor Jerald Sanders has been suspended from his duties by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster after he was indicted by a Lexington County grand jury on charges of embezzlement of public funds and misconduct in office.

Sanders, 71, is charged with having checks written to him from public funds in December 2019, totaling less than $10,000, and then cashing them into his own personal account without authorization. The embezzlement charge is a felony, and the misconduct charge is a misdemeanor.

McMaster has the right under state law to suspend Sanders until he is acquitted. If convicted, the post will become vacant and be filled. Swansea’s mayor pro tempore Woodrow Davis will fill the role.

Monday's indictment said Sanders “wrongfully accepted funds from the Town and wrongfully deposited funds properly belonging to the town into an account under his sole control.”

Swansea Town Council Member Doris Simmons told WLTX-TV News19 she filed a complaint against Sanders in May 2020 after a council meeting where more than $4,000 was found missing from the town’s general fund and had been sent to a charity that WLTX-TV News19 reported was run by Sanders named the Halo Community Foundation.

McMaster’s executive order said “this action in no manner addresses the guilt or innocence of Jerald E. Sanders and shall not be construed as an expression as an opinion on such question.”

Swansea is south of Columbia with fewer than 1,000 residents.