Financial audit into Sheriff Lewis nearing completion

Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis
Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis

A financial audit into Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis is nearing completion, according to several councilmen.

Greenville County Council members Joe Dill, Willis Meadows, and Bob Taylor requested the audit late in 2017 after Sheriff Will Lewis admitted to having an extramarital affair with a former subordinate, Savanah Nabors, on a taxpayer funded trip to Charlotte, in March of 2017.

When council learned an independent financial audit would be too expensive, they decided to use the county’s internal auditor.

The county’s auditor will retrieve financial documents regarding the budget Sheriff Lewis is given, along with financials related to the three foundations Sheriff Will Lewis’ office controls.

Those three foundations include “The Greenville County Sheriff’s Scholarship Foundation” founded in 1983, “The Greenville Sheriff’s Foundation” founded in 1984, and “Greenville Sheriff’s Office Technology Foundation” founded in 2017.

7News requested financial statements through the Freedom of Information Act Request for the Greenville Sheriff’s Office Technology Foundation from the Sheriff’s Office, to which they stated there were no funds.

7News made the same request for Greenville Sheriff’s Foundation, to which the Sheriff’s Office refused, stating they didn’t want to start a precedent by releasing documents from a private charity.

We then studied public tax documents for the Greenville Sheriff’s Foundation which showed they had raised more than $266,000 from 2014 to 2016 under former Sheriff Steve Loftis.

According to the foundation’s 2016 public tax documents, the purpose of the foundation is to “provide guidance to juveniles”. Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Flood told 7 News in December that the foundation purchases training equipment, K9 equipment, body armor for deputies, scholarships for children of deputies and deputies that are continuing their education.

7News also had questions about who has control over the money in these foundations. The registered agent on the Greenville County Sheriff’s Foundation is listed as “Headquarters”.
On the most recent tax documents from the Sheriff’s Foundation, it lists the only board member as Former Sheriff Steve Loftis. Loftis tells us that only himself and Deputy Chief John Eldridge had power to write checks from the foundation, but that his command staff had input on how the money was spent.

We have asked the Sheriff’s Office on multiple occasions if Sheriff Will Lewis is the only person controlling the Foundation’s finances, but to date–the Sheriff’s office hasn’t answered that question. In fact, the General Counsel to the Sheriff response to our multiple inquiries about the foundation is that he would have to present our questions to the foundation’s board of directors. When we asked for the names of those persons on the board of directors, the counsel declined to provide any of their names. When asked for answers to these questions this afternoon, the General Counsel stated they would not be able to answer my questions, as commenting when the audit was ongoing would be inappropriate.

Sheriff Lewis is also facing a SLED investigation, after he self-reported Savanah Nabors’ sexual harassment complaints in September. Nabors filed a lawsuit in October that has now been transferred to Federal Court.