UNION — One of two women charged with embezzling $115,000 from the Union County Magistrate’s Office will serve six months probation after making $57,500 in restitution.
Allyson Shaw Ayers, 43, 108 Cane Creek Road, Union, and Sherry Fisher Johnson, 43, 2935 Buffalo-West Springs Highway, Buffalo, were arrested by the Union County Sheriff’s Office in April 2012 and each charged with one count of embezzling funds and one count of misconduct in office.
The arrests were the result of investigation requested in January 2012 by Union County Chief Magistrate Jimmy Crocker and Assistant Chief Magistrate Jeff Bailey. The investigation was announced by Union County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair who said that Crocker and Bailey had become concerned about financial and accountability issues in their office. Their concerns led Crock and Bailey to contact the S.C. Court Administration System which recommended an outside audit with SLED made aware of the situation. An outside agency was engaged by Bailey, Sinclair, and Court Administration officials to conduct the audit while keeping law enforcement informed of the process.
The initial results led to a request by the sheriff’s office that SLED conduct a formal investigation. SLED submitted its findings to Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett for review. After reviewing the evidence, Brackett made the decision to have Ayers and Johnson — who had already been suspended from their duties in the magistrate’s office — indicted.
On Friday, Ayers pleaded guilty to misconduct in office before Judge Michael Nettles of Florence in the main courtroom of the Union County Courthouse.
Sixteenth Circuit Deputy Solicitor John Anthony said that Nettles sentenced Ayers to 10 years in prison suspended upon six months probation and 100 hours of public service. Anthony said that prior to pleading guilty, Ayers paid $57,500 in restitution to Union County. He said that Brackett had apportioned restitution equally between Ayers and Johnson and the $57,500 Ayers paid prior to entering her guilty plea was her share of the restitution. Anthony said her making that restitution was why the solicitor’s office had agreed to probation for Ayers.
Johnson’s case has not gone to trial yet.
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com.