Sea Pines security officers cast doubt on former co-worker's testimony

tbarton@islandpacket.comMay 31, 2012 

Jurors heard testimony Thursday from Sea Pines Security officers casting doubt on earlier testimony given by a former co-worker during a trial that began Tuesday.

Hilton Head Municipal Court Judge Maureen Coffey has accused Sea Pines' property owners association, Community Services Associates, and its security chief of harassing and defaming her and her family as authorities tried to solve a series of burglaries in 2008.

A former Sea Pines security officer testified Wednesday that the plantation's security chief directed him to lie and say the judge's adopted brother was a suspect in a rash of break-ins.

The judge contends Sea Pines security had no probable cause to suspect her brother, Otis Coffey. Her lawsuit claims Sea Pines officials conspired to jail her brother and discredit her by lodging a judicial complaint against her, alleging unethical conduct. That complaint was dismissed by the S.C. Supreme Court's Office of Disciplinary Counsel.

John Jolin, a security officer for Sea Pines from 2001 to 2008, testified he lied to a Beaufort County Sheriff's Office detective at the direction of George Breed.

Jolin said he was patrolling around midnight on May 20, 2008, along South Beach Lane, where most of the burglaries had occurred. A man approached him on a bicycle; Jolin said he tried to stop and question him, but the man fled. Jolin chased him, but lost him as he turned behind a house. Jolin said he was not positive whether the man was Otis Coffey but later lied and told a detective he positively identified the man as the judge's brother "because Mr. Breed told me to," according to his testimony.

Sea Pines Security Lt. Randy Woods, however, testified Thursday that Jolin called him hours after the chase and told him "I got Otis Coffey." Woods said Jolin later corrected himself and said, "I chased him."

"He said he encountered Otis Coffey, he fled and he chased him," Woods testified. "He said he was within hands-reach (of him) and knew him from working (security at the plantation's) gate."

Woods said there was probable cause to obtain an arrest warrant for Otis Coffey for fleeing to evade arrest, but Jolin changed his story.

"It was a completely different story all together," Woods testified. "He said he was scared of being sued and was afraid of losing his house and his kids."

Woods did not elaborate as to why Jolin was scared of being sued or losing his house or children.

No warrant was ever issued or charges filed against Otis Coffey.

Another Sea Pines Security officer, Lt. Barbara Martin, also testified Thursday that Jolin told her he was scared Otis Coffey would harm his family. Martin testified that Jolin "likes to embellish a lot."

"He said he didn't want anything to do with the case because he knows Mr. Coffey and the people he hangs with and was scared for his family," Martin testified.

Both Martin and Woods also deny claims by Maureen Coffey and Jolin that Breed and other CSA employees falsely accused them of having an affair. Coffey was married and is now separated.

Sea Pines Security officer William Waxel, a close friend of Jolin's, however, testified Thursday that Woods described to him a sexual relationship between Maureen Coffey and Jolin.

In his testimony, Woods denied ever spreading or hearing such a rumor, but that people asked him if there was an affair. He said he never responded to the questions.

Woods did testify that Jolin once remarked on how pretty Judge Coffey was while the two security officers waited to appear in her courtroom.

"I told him he needed to be quiet and not say things like that," Woods testified.

Testimony resumes today.

Related content

  1. Former Sea Pines officer testifies security chief ordered him to lie: May 30, 2012
  2. Hilton Head judge's defamation suit moves to trial: May 19, 2012
  3. Hilton Head judge vows to continue with lawsuit: Oct. 8, 2010
  4. Sea Pines property owners association responds to Judge Coffey's lawsuit: Dec. 26, 2008

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