HILTON HEAD

Sea Pines Security chief takes leave of absence

tbarton@islandpacket.comAugust 29, 2012 

Sea Pines' security chief has taken a leave of absence, about three months after a jury ordered him and Community Services Associates to pay more than $6 million to a local judge.

CSA executive vice president Cary Kelley told the CSA board of directors Tuesday that George Breed is on "administrative leave."

Contacted by phone Wednesday, Kelley declined to discuss the matter.

"It's a personnel matter, and personnel matters are kept within the community," Kelley said. "This is not newsworthy. It's inappropriate" to comment.

Kelley told the board he is overseeing the department in Breed's absence and has delegated some authority to supervisors within the department. He also told the board he made some staffing changes, removing two security employees who "were not a good fit."

CSA board president Bob Mang, in response to an Island Packet email, said Breed requested the leave of absence. Mang did not say why Breed asked for the leave and declined to comment further, stating Breed's absence "is a private matter between him and CSA, his employer."

Attempts Wednesday to reach Breed and some CSA board members were unsuccessful.

Other board members declined to comment, referring questions to Kelley.

Hilton Head Island Municipal Judge Maureen Coffey accused CSA and Breed of harassing and defaming her and her family during an investigation of a series of break-ins in 2004 and 2008, in which her brother was a suspect.

On June 6, the jury awarded Coffey $2 million in damages for defamation, $4 million in punitive damages, and $6,050 in compensation for counseling and medical expenses.

Attorneys for Breed and CSA have requested the $6 million award be overturned, calling it "grossly excessive." Fourteenth Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen heard post-trial motions on the request July 2 and has not yet ruled.

CSA attorney Andrew Halio of Charleston asked for a new trial if the verdict is upheld.

Coffey's attorney, Robert Mathison of Hilton Head, has said the award was reasonable, as CSA and Breed maligned her by sharing with town and Sea Pines officials copies of a confidential judicial complaint accusing her of unethical conduct. The complaint was dismissed by the S.C. Commission on Judicial Conduct.

Related content

  1. Sea Pines lawyers argue to overturn $6 million verdict: July 2, 2012
  2. Sea Pines officials challenge $6M verdict in judge's defamation suit: June 18, 2012
  3. Hilton Head judge wins $6M in Sea Pines defamation lawsuit: June 6, 2012

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