SLED arrests 2 after Kingstree water investigation

KINGSTREE, SC (WMBF) - The State Law Enforcement Division has arrested two people after an investigation into the tampering with the Kingstree water system.

Kingstree Town Manager Dan Wells released the following statement earlier this week:

I feel it is my responsibility to the citizens of Kingstree to address an issue that has been ongoing for over 5 months now.

In July, I learned that an alleged illegal tap was made to the town's water and wastewater service. The Town had no knowledge of the activity and the preliminary evidence gave us reason to believe that a crime had been committed. The property owner is listed as belonging to a public official. Upon learning that the public official knew of this alleged illegal tap and additionally an irrigation line that was unmetered for approximately 15 years at a relative's property, I requested the assistance of SLED. Normally, the Town would have investigated and prosecuted this relatively simple matter using the Kingstree Police Department resources and local courts. Given the fact that a public official was involved I chose to use SLED, while retaining the option to use the Town's police department resources. Kingstree PD has assisted in some aspects of the investigation.

To date, I am aware that an investigation is being performed, and charges may or may not be brought by the 3rd District Court Solicitor Ernest Finney III.

I am bringing this to the attention of the public so that persistent rumors may be extinguished that may be damaging to the Town and council. The public and our citizens should be assured that I and my staff will fulfill our obligations to enforce the law and ordinances according to our duty as public officials. We are entrusted and bound to enforce the law without regard to race, politics or perceived privilege.

Dan Wells said the individuals - 65-year-old Chalmers Hammett Sr. and 42-year-old Councilman Chalmers "Bubba" Hammett Jr. - were booked in the Williamsburg County jail and will have a bond hearing in front of Judge Williams at County Magistrate court.

Arrest warrants from SLED indicate they are both charged with utilities altering, tampering, bypassing utility meters. The sewer connection was installed between October and November 2012.

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