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Former town councilman pleads guilty

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Chalmers Hammet, Sr. pled guilty to a charge of altering, tampering, bypassing utility meters. Hammet was arrested along with his son Chalmers M. Hammet, Jr. on November 22. Hammet, Sr., a former Kingstree Town Councilmember and businessman, appeared before a magistrate judge on February 4, during pretrial motions, he pled guilty of the offense and was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.

The arrests stem from an investigation conducted by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division at the request of the Kingstree Police Department. The case was prosecuted by the Third Circuit Solicitor's Office.

According to an affidavit, for approximately 10 years, Hammet bypassed residential city water meter to supply an irrigation systems located on his property. Hammet also admitted to installing a sewer connection to his son's property without authorization or payment to the City of Kingstree.

During pretrial motion, the defense stated that the city had installed an overflow valve to Hammet's water line that is located on a dead end street, which required having city workers flush the line each week. An alternative was agreed upon between the city and Hammet allowing Hammet to install an irrigation system that would accomplish the same thing. The solicitor stated it was not an issue that Hammet thought what he did was allowable; rather, he intentionally did it to gain something for his house in terms of free water.

Hammet, Jr., a second term Kingstree Town Councilmember, has been offered the opportunity to apply for Pretrial Intervention Program (PTI). Columbia attorney Robert Bolchoz represented the town in this particular matter. Bolchoz told the court that the town is opposed to the PTI arrangement with Hammet, Jr., "as a matter of policy, which, basically stealing money from the city that he was sworn to represent as part of his duties as city councilman." Bolchoz said he would contact the Solicitor's Office to detail that in writing before Hammet enters into the program.

Under the PTI system, eligible first time, non-violent offenders must complete requirements set forth by the solicitor. Upon successful completion of the program, the court is notified and the charges are dismissed. The defendant is then eligible to clear his or her arrest record for the dismissal.

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