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Inlet Magistrate: Nominee denies claims by ex-boss

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Dave Jolliff, the nominee for a magistrate’s position in Murrells Inlet, denies allegations of inappropriate behavior brought up in a letter from his former supervisor that started circulating last week.

The 2006 letter from Lt. Larry Muncey, the former head of the Horry County Police narcotics division, recommended reassigning Jolliff after claims that he urinated on a citizen’s car outside a bar and left the scene after wrecking his car while intoxicated.

“This is somebody’s made-up version of something that happened,” said David DuRant, Jolliff’s attorney.

Jolliff left the department at the end of last month in preparation to take the magistrate job.

In a conversation with human resources staff in Horry County, DuRant said he was told “there’s nothing like that” in Jolliff’s personnel file.

“There are no disciplinary procedures,” he said. “The best I can figure is somebody put a bunch of stuff in an e-mail or it’s somebody’s opinions or thoughts, but that doesn’t make it true.”

While there was a wreck, he said, it didn’t take place as alleged. Jolliff never left the scene.

DuRant said he is working to arrange a meeting with Horry County officials to “try to get to the bottom of it.”

The letter was released by the Horry County Public Information office following a Freedom of Information Act request filed by an inlet resident, Tom Swatzel.

In the letter, Muncey is critical of Joliff’s behavior and demeanor. Muncey, who is now the police chief in Madison, Ala., said he could not comment on the letter because it was a “personnel issue.”

The letter was a topic of discussion Monday night at a meeting of the Waccamaw Neck Republican Club. State Sen. Ray Cleary, who selected Jolliff for the magistrate’s position, was one of the guest speakers and his presence attracted a number of inlet residents angry about how Cleary has handled filling the position.

“There were issues [in the letter] concerning trust, maturity, behavior and character,” said Bill Chandler, president of Preserve Murrells Inlet. “If you put this guy in the judge’s seat in Murrells Inlet, he’s not going to be trusted. It would be a tragic mistake ... You’re going to be gone and we’re saddled with him.”

Chandler apologized for bringing the issue up at the meeting, where Cleary was slated to talk about the legislative session, but “I didn’t see any alternative, because we were kind of brushed off.”

Preserve Murrells Inlet asked Cleary to speak to their group about the situation, but he refused. He said it would have opened a door and he would have then had to meet with any number of other groups who wanted input on the nominee.

“When people heard you wanted to talk with me, the phone didn’t stop ringing,” Cleary said. “Where do you draw the line?”

Cleary said he is aware of the concerns, and “at the end of the day, there will be a full vetting of the person I’ve picked.”

Jolliff will undergo a background check by the State Law Enforcement Division before he is appointed.

Cleary remains confident in his choice of Jolliff, he said, and told the crowd he had talked to a number of people who know Jolliff and who vouched for his character, including Horry County Sheriff Phillip Thompson.

“He called me and said ‘I just want you to know he’s a good guy,’ ” Cleary said.

Thompson was out of the office this week and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Cleary quoted Jolliff’s pastor, the Rev. Tim McKenzie of Seaside Community Church in Murrells Inlet, who said Jolliff is “a wonderful man” and “very studious in the word of God.”

Cleary hasn’t received any negative comments from those who have met Jolliff, he said.

“I think he’s a good person and will do a good job for the county,” Becky Pendergrass said of Jolliff. She knows him through her brother, who works in law enforcement. She said she wishes people would at least make an effort to meet Jolliff before they form opinions.

“I just want them to give the boy a chance,” she said.

Dan Morgan of Murrells Inlet said he has nothing personal against Jolliff.

“It’s more of an issue with Sen. Cleary,” he said.

He wrote to Cleary about his concerns and said he felt he was “summarily dismissed, like a parent dismissing a child from the dinner table.”

Cleary is being “absolutely close-minded,” said Robert Thompson of Murrells Inlet. He would like to see him at least be open to compromise, he said.

Cleary said the nominee is his choice and having interviewed the candidates, he believes Jolliff is the best option. “You may not like it, but I’m going to do what I think is the right thing,” Cleary said.”

Cleary told the group Steve Pop, a game warden with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, who many inlet residents favor for magistrate, has taken his name out of the running. Pop said he still has “an unwavering desire to serve the people of Georgetown County in that position.”

“This whole process has been loaded with peaks and valleys, and I plan on seeing it through to its conclusion,” Pop said.

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