SLED investigates CASA in Myrtle Beach for mismanagement of funds

There are no allegations of theft of funds or anything nefarious – CASA (Citizens Against Spousal Abuse) is funded mostly by grants, the allegation is that they were given a grant specifically to buy 2 vans, and they spent the money on something else.

The grant in question was a Victims of Crime sub grant by the SCDPS in the amount of $32,000 to purchase two mid-sized vans to transport victims of crime.

The SCDPS statement went on to say a routine check of CASA’s finances uncovered the inconsistency, which they in turn submitted to SLED for further review.  SCDPS has frozen all CASA grant funding as they await the outcome of SLED’s investigation.

CASA Board Chairwoman Sissy Rutherford admitted to WMBF News money from the SCDPS grant was not used for vans. Instead she said Joanne Patterson, former executive director, spent the money on emergency needs associated with CASA’s safe house.

Rutherford said the board fired Patterson, but that she didn’t do anything immoral or criminal.

Nothing immoral or criminal – what’s the problem?  It’s just that there’s a lot of money being spread around to help make CDV arrests, to prosecute people who are charged with CDV, and to protect people who are alleged victims of CDV, and the people/ agencies handing out the checks care that the money goes where it is supposed to.

Lest everyone forget (you did, didn’t you); there is no money to defend people who are accused of CDV.  The Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office receives grant money to pay the salary of a prosecutor specifically to prosecute CDV cases (and the same for DUI’s).  This means that there is a trained advocate on only one side of many cases, and the accused person has no idea what to do or where to turn if they cannot afford to pay a defense lawyer.  There is no public defender.  There is no grant money for people wrongfully accused of CDV or DUI.

A conviction for CDV involves more than the threat of 30 days in jail – most people don’t go to jail if they are convicted.  The minimum fine is $2100 with court costs, which is more than many defense lawyers charge to defend the case.  And/or attending the batterer’s program – a lengthy program that the solicitor’s office requires all defendants to attend.  Once convicted of CDV, a person can never again own a firearm unless they are able to have the charge expunged or pardoned down the road.

Out of the CDV cases that I have handled, a “true” case of domestic violence is rare.  I see a lot of people who are arrested for loud arguments, where both sides had too much to drink and pushed or shoved each other, where one called the police because they thought the other needed help and were surprised when the police showed up and put cuffs on everyone, and many cases where officers are telling the people on scene that, when they get a call for domestic violence, they are going to arrest someone.  Injuries or not.  Even the cases where there was a real honest-to-god fight usually involve mutual drunken combat, and an isolated incident as opposed to a pattern of abuse by one spouse against the other.

I don’t suppose grant money is affecting the decision to arrest/charge/prosecute CDV cases?

One Response to “SLED investigates CASA in Myrtle Beach for mismanagement of funds

  • Joe Mattingly
    8 years ago

    On May 10th 2012 I was able to raise a little over a $1,000.00 from friends and family. What happened with that money? It was money raised by walking a mile in her shoes fundraiser. I believe C.A.S.A was given over $11,000 from the community whoever helped raise funds. I’mjust curious what happened with the moneys that was donated to C.A.S.A.

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