SURFSIDE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — A former Surfside Beach police sergeant facing charges for allegedly using excessive force while arresting a woman in 2021 was fired in October after using up all of his leave, according to town records obtained by News13 in a Freedom of Information Act request.
News13 previously reported that Surfside Beach officials said John Gambone was “separated” from the town on Oct. 26 after a prolonged leave of absence related to medical issues.
Gambone was then arrested on Oct. 30 by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and charged with second-degree assault and battery and misconduct in office. He posted a $5,000 bond and was released from the J. Reuben Long Detention Center the same day.
The new documents released to News13, which included a payroll status notice, indicate that Gambone had FMLA leave that ended on July 20 and that he was granted personal leave after an on-the-job injury that ended on Oct. 26 when he was unable to return to work.
“You are ineligible for any additional leave of absence by state and federal laws or under Town policy,” the town said in a letter to Gambone. “As there is no leave status available for a continued absence and you are unable to return to work at full duty and meet the requirements of your job description, we regrettably must terminate your employment effective October 26, 2023.”
The letter does not mention anything about the SLED investigation or the pending charges.
According to the records, after the Town Administrator Gerald Vincent notified town council members in an email that Gambone was being fired, that he had submitted paperwork for disability retirement, that SLED had decided to pursue charges and that Gambone was going to be arrested, two council members expressed their frustrations.
“Thank him for his service and best of luck with his trial as he does not deserve this,” Councilman William Kinken responded. “What a waste of time.”
Councilman LaVerne Kreklau asked several questions in his reply.
“Why is the town allowing someone with criminal charges pending to retire with disability? The town kept him employed until now, why not keep him until he was arrested? It appears to me, being on the outside of this, that Mr. Gambone is being allowed to retire with his pension, but with a possibility of having a felony conviction.”
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Dennis Bright is a Digital Producer at News13. He joined the team in May 2021. Dennis is a West Virginia native and a graduate of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Follow Dennis on, Facebook, X, formerly Twitter, and read more of his work here.