Hardeeville councilman under investigation

rlurye@islandpacket.comNovember 15, 2013 

The S.C. State Law Enforcement Division is investigating a Hardeeville City Council member regarding allegations of interference with a police operation, a SLED spokeswoman said Friday.

SLED received a report Thursday from the Hardeeville Police Department about Councilman Sal Arzillo in reference to an incident that occurred Sunday, SLED spokeswoman Kathryn Richardson said. She declined further comment.

Arzillo said he had a discussion Sunday with a Hardeeville police officer who was responding to an alleged liquor-law violation at a Citgo gas station on Whyte Hardee Boulevard. Several people, including the station's owner, had called Arzillo on Sunday after officers arrived, he said. He would not say why they called. Arzillo said he went to the gas stationto see what was going on, he said. Once the councilman arrived, he spoke with police outside.

"We had a discussion about what was going on," he said. "There's nothing of any importance that happened with me."

The councilman refused to offer details about the conversation with the officer. At the time, four Hardeeville police officers were conducting a sting operation at the gas station in reference to complaints of the store selling liquor on Sundays, according to a report on the incident. They arrived at the business shortly before 1:30 p.m. and informed the clerk they were doing inspections to ensure stores were complying with liquor laws, the report states.

A woman carrying a black plastic bag then walked from the counter toward the front door and ignored officers' requests for her to stop after they heard the sound of bottles clinking in her bag, according to the report. Stopped by police outside, the 35-year-old Hardeeville woman said she did not know what was in the bag. Upon further questioning, she told officers she was handed a bag containing gin and told to take it out of the store.

The clerk, a 26-year-old Hardeeville man, admitted that he instructed the woman to remove the bag because he knew it was against the law, the report states. He also told officers he has sold liquor on previous Sundays. The woman was charged with giving false information to police and unlawful possession of liquor, and the clerk was charged with unlawful possession of liquor, the report states.

Arzillo was not mentioned in the report.

A Citgo manager reached Thursday declined to comment, and Hardeeville Police Chief Richard Nagy referred questions to SLED.

Attempts Friday to reach Hardeeville city manager Bob Nanni were unsuccessful.

Mayor Bronco Bostick said he looked into Arzillo's conversation and learned it was related to Sunday alcohol sales at a local store. He did not know SLED was investigating but offered that "there was no assault, nothing like that."

"I think him and one of the police officers just were discussing it," Bostick said.

The discussion was not heated, said Arzillo, who laughed Thursday when asked whether SLED was conducting an investigation.

"I hope not," he said. "I don't want to go to jail."

Reached Friday, Arzillo said he had not been informed of the investigation.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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