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Former Williamson Mayor pleads guilty to federal theft

CHARLESTON More details come to light after Williamson’s former mayor pleaded guilty to stealing funds while he was CEO of Williamson Memorial Hospital.

On Thursday, 61-year-old Charles Hatfield of Williamson pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges concerning programs receiving federal dollars.

U.S. Attorney Will Thompson held a press conference Thursday in Charleston to discuss that plea in the case of U.S. V. Charles Hatfield. He told reporters that, acting as CEO of Williamson Memorial, Hatfield had control of the hospital’s checkbook. In 2019, Hatfield wrote two checks to himself totaling nearly $35,000. The first was for $9,197.62 which he used to settle a personal lawsuit over taxes he owed on a Florida condo.

“He then directed $25,675 in hospital funds to Midmountain Properties, which was a real estate company owned by Mister Hatfield.”

The second check was written just days before Hatfield was fired as CEO, Thompson saying that check was written at a time when Williamson Memorial was struggling.

“What’s really disturbing on this was this transaction occurred just days prior to the hospital filing for bankruptcy,” Thompson said. “It also occurred at a time when the hospital did not have enough funds to appropriately fund its employee benefits programs, including retirement and healthcare.”

Hatfield’s guilty plea came amid investigations by several agencies, including the FBI, state police and the Secret Service, according to Thompson. Those investigations were launched after employees began asking questions about inconsistencies with their pay and benefits. Moreover, Thompson said The U.S. Department of Labor – Employee Benefits Security Administration (EBSA) also played a role in the investigations.

Hatfield resigned as Williamson’s mayor amid the recent investigations. As a result of his guilty plea, he will not be indicted and is instead scheduled for sentencing on September 12. He faces a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Moreover, he will be expected to pay the full amount of $34,872.62 in restitution.  

FILE PHOTO | Boothe Davis



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