The South Carolina Attorney General’s Office reviewed voicemails sent by Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone to Florence County Finance Director Kevin Yokim.
The voicemails were left in June and the Attorney General’s Office spokesperson told News13 it was referred to the office in July by the solicitor to avoid any potential conflicts.
Attorney General’s Office spokesperson Robert Kittle said after reviewing those voicemails, the office found they did not meet the requirements for criminal charges.
“They may have been unprofessional and rude, but that’s different from being able to prove in court, beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed,” Kittle said. “It came close, and we were certainly concerned, and we left the channels of communication open if anything happens in the future, but we decided that it was not a crime.”
He said the recordings can be interpreted as either a physical threat or just unprofessional.
“Kevin, this is Kenney Boone. You call me back immediately. If I don’t get a phone call back, I’m gonna send a deputy around your house or wherever you are to find you’re a- – . Call me now!”
News13 spoke with Yokim on Wednesday. He did not want to go on camera, but said it all started with a series of emails between him and Sheriff Boone.
“I know one of the emails having to do with expenditures was sent on June 20,” said Kittle.
Yokim said Boone turned in four travel forms to go to a Myrtle Beach conference back in June. However, Yokim questioned two of the forms because Boone requested two rooms for himself and one room for former sheriff Billy Barnes.
Sheriff Boone sent this email to Yokim on June 20 at 10:26 a.m.:
“I don’t have to get permission from you for anything that I do. Barnes is attending the conference because he is a past President and a lifetime member of the Association. I am getting a good rate on the 2nd room by reserving it through the County, and I will put it in my name when I get there. This is the last time that I will give you any explanation on anything that I do. Don’t question me again. I wont this done today.
The response email from Yokim to Boone on June 20 at 5:04 p.m. reads as follows:
One of my many roles as Finance Director is to ensure that county funds are expended for a valid public purpose. If I permitted funds to be expended for non-public use, I would be in violation of the State Ethics Act. As the preeminent law enforcement official in Florence County, I trust you understand.
Prior to me signing any pre-travel authorization form, I need to ensure that funds being requested to be expended are for a valid public purpose. My signature on these forms certifies that funds are available in the appropriate accounts and that funds are being expended for a valid public purpose.
As soon as I can determine that the funding for your second hotel room at the conference and the funding for Sheriff Barnes’ attendance at the conference are valid public purposes for the expenditure of Florence County funds, I will sign these forms.
Thank you for your assistance,
Yokim says a week after the exchange, he got calls from a restricted number and didn’t answer.
“Kevin, Kenney Boone, again. I don’t know what your deal is putting your nose in other people’s business. Barnes has been going with me for years and now all of the sudden you wanna question things that I do? You little nerdy, uh, intelligent, b- – – – – -. I tell you what, you call me back because I’m gonna beat the – hell’s coming with me. If I was in Florence, I would meet you personally, but I’m telling you- it… You haven’t seen hell yet because I’m coming back and I’m going to take it away from all y’all and do whatever I need to do. I’m telling you, payback is gonna be hell, I promise ya.”
Yokim said Billy Barnes’ travel form was sent back to the sheriff’s office, and he didn’t know what happened to it after it was sent back. He also said he only approved one of Boone’s rooms that he requested.
Kittle said those recordings did not rise to the level of criminal charges, but Florence County can still take disciplinary action if it feels necessary.
“There are still other options open in terms of County Council taking action, you know, some kind of disciplinary action or public sanctions or whatever,” said Kittle. “That’s up to them.”
However, Florence County Attorney, Mc Eachen Malloy told News13 over the phone that the county cannot take action.
News13 reached out to Sheriff Boone twice over the phone. The second time News13 called the phone went straight to voice mail. News13 also emailed Boone, and called Major Mike Nunn with the sheriff’s office. We have not yet heard back from either of them.
We’ll keep you updated as soon as we learn more.