South Congaree, SC (WLTX) -- The Town of South Congaree is now facing more scrutiny and another investigation from SLED.
It comes after the Town's Municipal Clerk went to pull the record from a Jan. 23 Town Council session and noticed the device used to "record it" was gone, which was the focus of a special called Town Council Meeting Tuesday evening.
South Congaree Town Councilwoman Lila Gantt and the Town's Municipal Clerk, Patt Shull, verbally sparred at times during the meeting, debating on with whom the blame lies for the mishap that led to the new investigation.
The town uses a device to record its council sessions, and that device records to a sim-card. That card was discovered missing early Jan. 24, the morning following the council meeting, South Congaree Town Attorney Eric Fosmire said.
"There were some things I felt was (sic) attorney-client privileged information," said Town Councilwoman Lila Gantt, "so I contacted another council member (and) said 'on your way to work in the morning would you go by (and) pull the tape.'"
She said she called Town Councilman Jerry Smith that night before she went to bed to retrieve the device early the next morning.
"(Lila) Gantt made that decision, called and asked me what I thought about it, I agreed with her," Smith said. "I came down and pulled the tape."
When Shull went to get the device from where it was held inside council chambers, which double as the town's courtroom, she noticed it was not there, and reported it to Town Police Chief Josh Shumpert, who said he called SLED Chief Mark Keel personally.
"I've got to follow a certain procedure," Shumpert said, addressing both members of the Town Council and the audience that packed into the small room Tuesday. "I want to make sure it's done right. I don't care if it's one of my officers, I don't care if it's someone from the public, if something I feel is not right, I've got to go to the appropriate people."
It is another blemish to the town that remains at the center of a still open SLED investigation after a Town Hall raid last summer, and many town residents voiced their disapproval Tuesday during a public comment period. That included former Town Mayor Bobby Vining, who questioned whether it was right to remove a recording from an open council session.
When asked if there was any intent to erase information contained on the device, Councilwoman Gantt denied the assertion, saying instead that she wanted to wait for the entire Town Council to get together to decide what they wanted to do with it.
Gantt, who also serves as Mayor Pro Tem, was adamant the device remained in a lock box inside Town Hall from the moment it was removed by Smith.
Fosmire said he was conducting a review to determine what the recording held, and if some of that information may be privileged.
The SLED investigation is continuing with no word yet on when it will conclude.
For his part, Shumpert said he stood behind his decision to call SLED.