Beaufort News

Sheldon Fire District officer — chief’s wife — charged with providing alcohol to minors

Diane Jones
Diane Jones

The wife of the Sheldon Fire District chief, who is also a lieutenant with the department, was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor Friday in connection with a June 2016 incident in which alcohol was allegedly supplied to two minors.

Diane Jones, 42, was indicted on the misdemeanor charge on Feb. 23 by a grand jury in Beaufort County general sessions court, according to the indictment provided by the Beaufort County Clerk of Court’s office on Monday.

Jones was detained in Beaufort County Detention Center just after 9:30 a.m. on Friday and released on a $10,000 bond just after 4 p.m. the same day, according to online detention center and Beaufort County court records.

The indictment states that Jones encouraged, aided or caused a minor to violate a law or ordinance “on or about June 8, 2016,” but no other details were available.

Diane Jones is the wife of fire chief Buddy Jones.

South Carolina Law Enforcement Division led the investigation into the allegations against Diane Jones. SLED spokesman Thom Berry said Monday he was unable to provide any details about the case because it is an active investigation.

Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Bob Bromage said SLED was asked to take over the investigation to avoid any possible conflicts since the suspect has ties to a county agency. The Sheriff’s Office has worked with the Sheldon Fire District in the past, Bromage said.

According to a June 9, 2016, Sheriff’s Office report, Jones allegedly provided alcohol to her daughter and her neighbor’s daughter at her Paige Point Road home earlier in the month.

A neighbor alleged that Jones was home while the two minors were drinking alcohol at her house, according to the Sheriff’s Office report. The neighbor provided three photographs to the Sheriff’s Office of the juveniles drinking alcohol that another mother found on her child’s cell phone, according to the report.

Jeff Kidd, communications director with the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office, confirmed that the subject of the SLED investigation is the same Lt. Diane Jones of the Sheldon Fire District and wife of Buddy Jones.

Chief Buddy Jones declined to comment on personnel matters on Monday afternoon. Diane Jones is listed as the officer for the district’s Shift B on the fire district website.

Diane Jones did not return calls for comment after two messages were left for her at Sheldon Fire District Station 40 on Monday and Tuesday and an electronic message seeking comment was sent to her Facebook account.

Diane Jones’ next court appearance is set for June 14, Kidd said on Tuesday.

At that time she will address a judge to either make a plea or request a trial, he said.

Joan McDonough: 843-706-8125, @IPBG_Joan