Governor removes suspended Florence Co. sheriff from office after guilty pleas

Updated: Jan. 8, 2020 at 3:59 PM EST
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SUMTER S.C. (WMBF) – Suspended Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone has officially been removed from office after appearing in a Sumter court Wednesday morning and entering guilty pleas to two counts following his 2019 indictment.

An order signed Wednesday afternoon by S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster declared the office of Florence County sheriff vacant and that acting sheriff William “Billy” Barnes would serve in the interim until a permanent replacement is elected in the Nov. 3 general election.

Barnes has been serving as interim Florence County sheriff since last April, following Boone’s arrest.

Boone appeared before a judge Wednesday and pleaded guilty to misconduct in office and embezzlement. He was sentenced to five years in prison, suspended to one day in jail. That day was already served when he was arrested on April 5, 2019.

Additionally, Boone was sentenced to five years’ probation and ordered to pay restitution of approximately $17,014. He is also required to attend drug and mental health counseling.

Appearing in court with his wife, Boone said he takes full responsibility and apologized for his actions. He added he embarrassed his family, the sheriff’s office and the community.

“From ankle monitors, embarrassment of my children, social media, the media... it’s been tough," Boone told the judge.

Boone said he accepts whatever the judge decides is an appropriate sentence.

Additionally, Boone apologized to agents with State Law Enforcement Division who were in the courtroom. He noted he sent them away when they arrived on the scene in the aftermath of the Oct. 3, 2018 Vintage Place shooting in which seven Florence County officers were struck, two of whom succumbed to their injuries.

“I said no Richland County was on the way and your remarks were before you left that I would regret that... you’re right. Like I said I apologized to you, to Mark Keel, you know for what I’ve done,” Boone said to SLED Assistant Chief Paul Grant in the courtroom.

The former sheriff was first arrested in April of 2019 after using thousands in funds from the sheriff’s office for personal use.

A state grand jury also indicted Boone last November with one count of misconduct in office and three counts of campaign ethics violations.

That indictment alleges Boone received campaign contributions and failed to put them in his campaign account or keep any record of their use and converted them to his personal use, the release stated.

A press release from the State Attorney General’s Office states the ethics charges against Boone are included in the misconduct in office plea, so the other charges against him are dismissed.

Officials with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy said Boone’s law enforcement certifications are temporarily suspended for now. The training council will meet and make a final decision at a later time. The earliest that could take place is the council’s Jan. 29 meeting.

Florence County Sheriff Chief Glen Kirby said Wednesday that “a very sad chapter for Florence County comes to an end.”

"We pray for Boone and his family and as the new chapter begins, we look forward to meeting the challenge of rebuilding and re-earning the confidence and trust of Florence County,” Kirby said.

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