Former Hardeeville officials seek dismissals of misconduct charges

rlurye@islandpacket.comMay 12, 2014 

A motion is pending before Jasper County Circuit Court to dismiss a charge of misconduct in office brought against a former Hardeeville city administrator, according to his lawyer.

The hearing for Shane Haynes could be scheduled for as early as this week, attorney Jared Newman said. Haynes has not appeared in court since a hearing in April 2013, in which he was granted a $15,000 personal recognizance bond, according to court records.

Similar motions are pending in the cases of three other former city employees charged with misconduct in March 2013, and the S.C. Attorney General's Office decided last month it would no longer prosecute a fifth defendant, former Hardeeville fire chief John Ekaitis.

The state announced that resolution at a hearing April 15, citing a lack of evidence and prosecutorial merit.

The case alleged Ekaitis wrongfully took thousands of dollars from the city between 2005 and 2006, primarily in violation of the city's "leave-cashing policy" and through unauthorized bonuses, according to documents filed in Jasper County Court.

Haynes is accused of the same, along with former treasurer Santesia Henderson, former Police Chief James Hubbard and former police Lt. Eric Washington.

Reached Saturday, Newman said Haynes is innocent and deserves a similar resolution as Ekaitis.

"We all feel we stand in the same boat," Newman said.

The five former officials were indicted after an audit of Hardeeville's finances prompted the S.C. Law Enforcement Division to look deeper.

The five-year criminal investigation found the city had updated a policy to limit how many unused sick and vacation days employees could cash in, but the city did not enforce the policy. It also claimed employees received bonuses that were not properly documented or authorized.

However, in the months that followed the indictment, the Attorney General's Office failed to provide evidence of the former city employees' misconduct, according to several motions.

"We believe the charges are absolutely baseless," Newman said.

Attempts to reach Haynes, Henderson, Hubbard and Washington were unsuccessful. Ekaitis said Friday he was grateful to see an end to his case.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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