South Carolina Municipal Employee Arrested For Tax Crimes
A high-ranking municipality official faces multiple tax evasion charges
A municipal employee from South Carolina has found herself in the middle of a major controversy as she was arrested on charges related to major tax crimes. The news was disclosed on February 7, 2024, as the South Carolina Department of Revenue (SCDOR) unveiled that a Midlands businesswoman was detained under allegations of tax evasion worth thousands of dollars and underreporting millions in liquor sales during the course of the pandemic.
The accused, identified as Debra Ann Courtney, was formerly managing a sports bar and grill, Gadgets of Lugoff, situated off U.S. Highway 601 in Kershaw County.
Arrest and Charges
On February 2, 2024, Courtney was served with twelve arrest warrants and was subsequently taken to the Kershaw County Detention Center. She managed to post a $5,000 bond on the same afternoon. The 63-year-old is indicted for evading $238,384 in state taxes while concealing over $2.4 million in liquor sales between 2019 and 2022.
Further allegations paint a darker picture as Courtney is also alleged to have not paid income taxes held from employee salaries for nearly a decade. The charges filed against Courtney include one count of income tax evasion, two counts of failure to file an income tax return, three counts of liquor by the drink tax evasion, one count of failure to file a liquor by the drink tax return, three counts of sales tax evasion, one count of failure to file a sales tax return, and one count of failure to account for and pay withholding tax.
An Unraveled Dual Role?
Courtney, if convicted on the charges, may face a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment and/or a fine of $10,000 for each criminal charge count. The severity of the consequences could potentially affect her secondary employment as a municipal employee in Kershaw County.
What’s surprising is Courtney’s notable work profile where she serves as the director of finance for the City of Camden, a position she’s reportedly held since 1998. Courtney was part of the administration that was responsible for a major surge in utility rates across Camden and surrounding counties in 2022, following a power purchase agreement with Carolina Power Partners in 2018.
Administrative Leave and Ongoing Investigation
Currently, Courtney has been put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The city manager, Jonathan Rorie, stated that no official comment would be made about Courtney’s personal activities.
According to SCDOR, this arrest is the first tax-crime related arrest in 2024, following the arrest of twenty individuals on similar charges in 2023. The agency reaffirms its commitment to enforcing tax laws fairly and equally for all, seeking to protect compliant taxpayers from bearing an unfair tax burden.
Awaiting Trial and Further Consequences
With Courtney currently awaiting trial, the case serves as a stark reminder for public servants to uphold their duty and stay compliant to the law of the land. The arrest has again fueled the debate around the accountability and transparency measures needed within public administration. The case continues to progress, and any further updates will undoubtedly spark crucial discussions about ethics, law enforcement, and public service.