Tuesday, December 3, 2013
A Kingstree Town Councilmember and his father were arrested November 22, and charged with bypassing utility meters. Chalmers Hammett, Sr., 65, and Kingstree Town Councilman Chalmers "Bubba" Hammett, Jr., 42, both of Kingstree, were booked at the Williamsburg County Detention Center.
The arrests are the result of an investigation conducted by SLED at the request of the Kingstree Police Department and published in The News November 27, issue. The arrests occurred after the special Mass Mailing issue had gone to print.
According to a South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) warrant, prior to July 17, 2012, Chalmers Hammett, Sr. is alleged to have bypassed residential city water meter to supply an irrigation system located on his property in Kingstree, thus depriving the city of its rightful fee for the water used. The elder Hammett, a former town councilman, stated in the affidavit he had been doing this for approximately 10 years. In addition, the father and the son installed a sewer connection to the son's property across the street without authorization and without proper payment to the city. The son admitted to investigators he had knowledge of the sewer connection.
Councilman Hammett beat challenger Mike Barrineau retaining his District 5 seat for a second term in the November 5, elections. Following the advice of their attorney, both father and son declined to comment. However, both agreed to provide their side of the story when appropriate.
Kingstree Town Manager Dan Wells announced the investigation was underway during a November 18, council meeting. At that time, Wells stated the town normally would have investigated and prosecuted the matter; however, he said given the fact that a public official was involved he chose to use SLED, while retaining the option to use Kingstree Police Department’s resources.