Councilors turned themselves in today
Former Columbia City Council member Brian DeQuincey Newman and Richland County Council member Kelvin Washington were arrested this morning at the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center on tax charges relating to the Department of Revenue’s ongoing investigation into the Richland County Penny Tax program, The Nerve has confirmed.
Newman, a local attorney with his own firm specializing in criminal defense, governmental relations and personal injury, surrendered himself at 8 a.m. Washington, who is self-employed and as The Nerve previously has reported owes $75,000 in fines to the S.C. Ethics Commission and recently forfeited a condominium at 320 S. Beltline to tax foreclosure (and faces up to $7,000 in penalties in a pending lawsuit as a result),surrendered himself to a DOR investigator at 9 a.m.
Both face a bond hearing after the arrests on the charges.
Newman faces two counts of willful failure to file for not disclosing approximately $201,179 of income over the pervious two years. Each count carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and/or $10,000 per count if found guilty. Newman is represented by former S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers and has a General Sessions hearing scheduled later this afternoon at 2 at the Richland County Judicial Center at 1701 Main St. before Circuit Court judge Cordelle Maddox.
Washington faces three charges of willful failure to file for the previous three years, meaning he could face a penalty if found guilty of up to three years in prison and/or up to $30,000 in fines. He is accused of failure to pay $426,776 of income.
Washington was the chairman of Richland County Council when the Penny Tax was passed in 2012. An audit of the controversial tax was launched by DOR in March of 2015 “to ensure public accountability and transparency,” with the preliminary findings of fraud, corruption and possible criminal activity announced in a letter to Richland County Administrator Tony McDonald in a letter from DOR director Rick Reames on Dec. 9, 2015.
“The public deserves accountability from its government and elected officials,” said Rick Reames, director of the South Carolina Department of Revenue. “The Department will force this accountability by taking action against those who violate the law.”
Back in July 2015, Newman announced he would not seek re-election to the District 2 seat he held since 2010 when he became the youngest person ever to serve on Columbia City Council. While on city council Newman served on Central Midlands Regional Transit Authority Board of Directors and chaired the city’s Committee on Public Safety. Newman is the son of 15-plus year circuit court judge Clifton Newman and the nephew of former Civil Rights leader and state Sen. Rev. I DeQuincey Newman.
Ed McDowell won election last November to the seat Newman vacated.
Reach Aiken at 803-254-4411 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RonAiken and @TheNerveSC.