Charges against the owner of a Beaufort jewelry store for allegedly violating a precious-metals ordinance have been dropped by the city.
David Kinard, 55, owner of The Jeweler's Bench on 603 Carteret St., was cited five times in October for violating the city's ordinance after investigators found items in his store jewelry that had been reported stolen. A burglary suspect, 18-year-old Devona Rezenee Brown, admitted to stealing dozens of items and selling them to Kinard, according to Beaufort police.
Kinard initially was accused of failing to report the transactions to police, not identifying the sellers, not photographing jewelry he purchased, not retaining records and not keeping items 10 days before melting them down or selling them.
Soon after Kinard pleaded not guilty at a Nov. 8 hearing in Beaufort Municipal Court, Police Chief Matt Clancy revoked Kinard's permit to buy precious metals, according to city attorney Bill Harvey. Clancy declined to comment Friday and directed questions to Harvey.
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"There are technical differences between the state statute and city ordinance," Harvey said, adding that city ordinance can't supersede a state statute. The ordinance and state law are at odds about when a permit can be revoked. State law says a permit can only by taken if the holder is convicted of violations twice.
Kinard has never been convicted of a precious-metals violation, Harvey said, so Clancy lacked the authority to pull his permit.
The charges against Kinard were officially dropped about two weeks ago, according to Kinard's former attorney, Robert Ferguson Jr.
Kinard was unable to purchase precious metals from customers for about six weeks before the permit was renewed, Harvey said. During the time he had no permit, Kinard hired attorney Fred Kuhn and considered suing the city for loss of business and unconstitutional action by Beaufort police, Kuhn said Friday.
Kinard agreed not to pursue legal action, and the city agreed to drop the charges, Harvey said.
"We worked it out," Harvey said. "We believe he fully appreciates what he can and can't do, and we agreed we can all move forward."
The city is now considering how to prevent such incidents, Harvey said.
"Part of what we're considering now is how to revise the ordinance so it matches the state's," he said. Beaufort's ordinance was enacted in 1981 and requires permits to be renewed each year.
Kinard, who has run a jewelry store since 1986, said Friday he is glad the issues have been resolved and is looking forward to continuing to operate. He declined to comment further.
"The city did the right thing," Kuhn said. "It's all water under the bridge now."