SCALE has received $27,000 since coming under S.C. Attorney General, FBI investigation
By RON AIKEN
On March 16, 2016, a State Grand Jury indicted SCALE, Inc. CEO Patricia Ford on five counts of perjury related to the alleged conversion of approximately $28,000 in hospitality-tax funds to personal use. The charges came just days after Richland County issued Ford a hospitality-tax check for $14,500.
On May 19, two months after the indictments were issued and with the criminal investigation still underway, the Richland County Finance Department issued a check to SCALE for $12,500 — a check only Ford could deposit.
Last week, approximately a month after that check was issued, a State Grand Jury issued six more indictments against Ford, five for perjury related to allegedly falsifying hospitality-tax documents and another for obstruction of justice.
Multiple media outlets, beginning with Quorum, confirmed the S.C. Attorney General and FBI investigation into SCALE in December 2016. Since that confirmation, the County has continued to pay Ford to the tune of $27,000.
When asked Monday why the County continues to issue hospitality-tax checks to a woman now facing 11 counts of misusing those exact funds — especially when criminal investigations into Ford and SCALE, Inc. have been public knowledge since 2016 and multiple instances of Ford using phony invoices to pay herself and her family have been documented in the months since — Richland County Administrator Gerald Seals and County spokeswoman Beverly Harris both had the same response.
When contacted by Quorum, neither County Administrator Gerald Seals nor spokeswoman Beverly Harris offered any explanation as to how the May 19 payment happened, why no one bothered to question whether giving $12,500 to a suspect under criminal indictment was wise or whether the County would seek to recover the money were Ford found guilty.
The County’s answer to those and other questions asked has been and is now the same — to ignore them completely. Even when told this story would be written this way without a response, the response was none at all.
When told about the May 19 payment, longtime County Council member Greg Pearce expressed surprise that something so obvious could escape Seals’ notice.
“Definitely someone should (have noticed),” Pearce said. “Who is or was doing that? Somehow I thought Seals was monitoring, but I could be totally wrong.”