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Former employer suing county manager
Tim Callanan
Tim Callanan

RINCON -- According to TV and newspaper reports from Charleston, S.C.,  County Administrator Tim Callahan is being sued by a former employer.

In the lawsuit filed Monday, Berkeley County (S.C.)  alleges that Callanan, hired by the Effingham County Board of Commissioners one year ago, and Bill Peagler, his former supervisor, schemed to pay Callanan $49,900 in the form of an extra allowance to his salary which they dubbed "severance pay." Callanan was fired after  Peagler lost a re-election bid.

Callanan reacted strongly and confidently in a statement he emailed to the Herald on Tuesday.

"If in fact the county has filed suit against me, then their action is not only frivolous, but they can expect that I will vigorously defend myself.  I was offered a legal severance by Berkeley County and I accepted it. Any claim to the contrary is ridiculous.  This suit is nothing more than an individual using taxpayers'  money to fund a personal vendetta."

According to WCSC, the agreement stated Callanan would not work but instead would be on “paid administrative leave” until Dec. 3, 2018, at which point his employment with the county would end.

The suit states Peagler and Callanan kept the severance agreement secret and did not disclose it to the county attorney, whose job includes reviewing all contracts where the county is a party. Officials said the county lawyer learned about the agreement from employees after it had been secretly drafted and signed by Peagler and Callanan.

The county alleges that the two men lied about who approved it and threatened people to keep the deal quiet.

On Nov. 8, 2018,  according to the suit, Peagler called the finance director into Callanan’s office and handed him a copy of the severance agreement stating that he wanted it processed “as quickly as possible.”

According to the county, records from Wells Fargo showed that Callanan immediately left the county office the next day  and obtained a cashier’s check so that he would receive the funds even if the  council did not approve the agreement and attempted  stop payment or cancel the county check.

A few days later,. the council unanimously voted to fire Callanan for misappropriation of county funds.