Coroner Hit with Ethics Fine

WINNSBORO – A $200 fine has ballooned into a $14,500 penalty against Fairfield County Coroner Barkley Ramsey, according to a Jan. 11 order from the S.C. State Ethics Commission, for an unpaid penalty dating back to 2012.

According to the Ethics Commission’s order, Ramsey failed to file his Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) form in 2010 and 2011. Ramsey was hit with a $200 fine in a letter dated Feb. 17, 2012, the order said. That letter was re-sent on March 12, 2012 and was returned marked “Return to Sender – Vacant.” The letter was sent a third time directly to the Coroner’s Office, the order said, on April 13, 2012.

The Ethics Commission’s order said that Ramsey later filed his SEI for 2010 and 2011 on Nov. 5, 2012, but by that time he had run up $10,000 in late-filing penalties, as well as $2,000 for each filing violation.

Ramsey said last week that the fine was being paid, with deductions coming directly out of each paycheck. Ramsey characterized the affair as an oversight and took full accountability for the error.

“I’m not trying to hide it,” Ramsey said. “Maybe I got that letter and just misplaced it or overlooked it. I don’t know. But it is being paid.”

In addition to the $2,000 penalty for each violation, failure to file an SEI within five days of the deadline carries a $100 fine. After notice by the Ethics Commission that the SEI has not been filed, violators face a fine of $10 per day for the first 10 days after notice and $100 a day for each additional day.

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