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New counterclaims, replies in the Town of Swansea's financial saga

The countersuit is in response to a lawsuit filed in August 2022 in relation to $3.3M in assets unaccounted for in the town's 2021 budget.

SWANSEA, S.C. — There are more developments in the legal back and forth over the Town of Swansea's finances. Now, the town's clerk-treasurer, Margaret Harvey, has filed a counterclaim against council members Doris Simmons, Michael Luongo, and former council member Barrett Black. 

The original lawsuit was filed by Simmons, Luongo and Black against the town's mayor, hired auditor and clerk-treasurer back in August. 

News 19 has been telling you for weeks how an audit found $3.3M of town assets unaccounted for and since then, town leaders have been suing each other over how that information came out. The $3.3M was discussed in a council meeting on August 22, 2022. 

RELATED: Budget audit shows $3.3M unaccounted for in Swansea

RELATED: Swansea town leaders ordered to show financial records

The council members claim they weren't getting the answers they wanted from Harvey and other town officials about why the money was unaccounted for.

The lawsuits, counterclaims, and replies, all the legal documents kept circling this week. 

Margaret Harvey, the town's clerk treasurer, the latest to file a counterclaim, explains the lawsuit by the councilmembers said she's the bookkeeper for the town, but she claims that isn't true.  

Harvey's counterclaim asks that this case be dismissed and she wants damages.

We told you Monday that the man who performed that financial review, town auditor John Brown, is also fighting back against the claims from the councilmembers.

RELATED: Auditor files countersuit against Swansea town council members

According to him, it's not the first time some in town leadership have questioned his work unfairly.

In 2020, city officials made a claim against him with the South Carolina Board of Accountancy, but that case was later dismissed.

"This lawsuit just shows a pattern on the part of the plaintiffs to try to continue to harass me without any justification for it," Brown said.

Brown tells News 19 he doesn't understand why the council members are coming after him instead of other employees who may have handled financial documents with the town.

RELATED: What led to a bad audit for Swansea - and why towns are supposed to keep track

"Instead of trying to work with their accounting personnel to try to correct the problem, they're coming against me with suits and whatnot saying that I'm responsible for telling them what the problems are," Brown said.

The document showing the plaintiff's lawyer's response explains that they want a decision from a judge and that the counterclaims be dismissed with costs and relief.

There's no date yet on when these cases could be heard in court. 

According to the lawyer representing the Town of Swansea, he expects Viola McDaniel, the town's mayor, to file a counterclaim as well.

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