Columbia Economic Development Director Arrested

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Columbia's Economic Development Director Wayne Gregory, Jr. has been arrested for charges out of Georgetown County. The Georgetown County Sheriff's Department says Gregory was charged for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000 from Georgetown County while he held the same position for the county he now holds in the City of Columbia.

Gregory formerly served as Georgetown County's Economic Developer from 2005 until July 2013. Sources tell News19 that he was arrested this morning in Columbia for charges that came from his time in Georgetown.

According to the report, approximately one month ago Georgetown County Sheriff A. Lane Cribb was contact by the County Administrator's office concerning a number of fraudulent purchases made by Gregory. The Sheriff's department conducted an investigation that revealed Gregory allegedly used a Georgetown County purchasing card while in employment with the County, and misappropriated funds from the County.

The report goes on to allege that Gregory was able to convert more than $100,000 in funds for his own personal use.

Previous Coverage: Columbia Names Economic Development Director

Along with Georgetown County Investigators, investigators from SLED and Columbia P.D. questioned Gregory at his apartment this morning. Law enforcement executed a search warrant in his residence to collect any related evidence.

Columbia City Manager Theresa Wilson said in a release sent to News 19 WLTX Tuesday afternoon, that Wayne Gregory has been terminated today, and current City of Columbia employee Ryan Coleman would immediately serve as Acting Economic Development Director. Coleman, who most recently has served as the City's Development and Business Manager, also was with the Office of Business Opportunities, and held a previous position with the Economic Development Department.

Wilson states that she was not contacted by SLED or any other law enforcement agency in the investigation into Gregory's activities, and based upon the allegations against Gregory has instructed the City's staff to conduct a full internal review of all Economic Development operations conducted while Gregory was employed with the City.

Gregory was placed under arrest and charged with Embezzlement of Public Funds over $5,000, and was booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center Tuesday at 6:00pm.

Following a Wednesday morning Bond Hearing, Gregory was released at 11:21AM on a $5,000 bond.

Columbia City Manager Teresa Wilson fired Gregory after being notified about his arrest.

They're currently checking city of Columbia records to make sure that no funds have been misappropriated.

"We really don't anticipate any issues but out of due diligence and an abundance of caution I felt that it was necessary as well as my chief financial officer for us to do some thorough review based off the allegations that have been made and I am sure that everyone has seen the statement that Georgetown County released that goes into that so we just want to be cautious and move forward and make sure the economic development department is properly situated and I believe that it is but as the manager I want to check and make sure," said City Manager, Teresa Wilson.

Ryan Coleman who has been a long time city employee will serve as the new director for economic development.


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