Witnesses testify at magistrate's defamation of character trial

Witnesses testify at magistrate's defamation of character trial

BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) - Testimony continued Thursday at the Beaufort County courthouse in a case that pits judge against law enforcement. Hilton head Island Magistrate Judge Maureen Coffey filed a lawsuit against Sea Pines Plantation's Property Owners Association and it's head of security.

Hilton Head's assistant town manager in charge of finance, Greg Deloach,  was called to the stand by Coffey's attorneys. DeLoach testified that he had a 2009 confidential letter of complaint that was sent to the Commission on Judicial Conduct regarding Coffey's ability to stay fair and neutral. All of this stemming from a string of burglaries, the complaint letter and a civil lawsuit claiming defamation of character.

The string of burglaries happened in 2008 inside Sea Pines plantation on Hilton Head Island's south end. Coffey alleges that George Breed, head of Sea Pines' security, targeted her adopted brother, Otis Brown, as a person of interest in those burglaries.

DeLoach testified that he received the letter and had it filed with the town of Hilton Head Island. When questioned about the letter, he said it was a matter between Coffey and Breed and that he had no jurisdiction over Coffey as he is not her direct supervisor. However, DeLoach is responsible for renegotiating Coffey's contract, which was for 2 years at $87,000. Coffey is a contract employee and because of the law suits involving Sea Pines, has recused herself from hearing Sea Pines cases, causing the town to hire another attorney to hear those cases. Coffey's lawsuit alleges that Breed's targeting of her brother in connection caused her defamation of character.

On Wednesday, former Sea Pines security officer John Jolin testified that he was directed by Breed to lie about his certainty that Otis Brown is a suspect in the burglary cases.

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