A Marion County grand jury has handed down indictments against the Marion fire chief and the city administrator, alleging they knew the Marion Fire Department building contained asbestos and allowed staff, volunteers and community members to come inside.
According to court documents filed earlier this month, city administrator and building inspector Alan Thomas Ammons and fire chief Ralph Walton Cooper III were each indicted on charges of misconduct in office, conspiracy to violate the Pollution Control Act and violation of the Pollution Control Act.
Ammons and Cooper are scheduled to be arraigned Friday at 10:00 a.m. in Marion County, according to the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office.
The indictments allege the two “did willfully and unlawfully commit misconduct” while in public office “by acts and omissions of malfeasance, misfeasance, or nonfeasance” by allowing people into the fire department building despite reportedly knowing the building contained asbestos.
Both are also accused of allowing asbestos waste to be “discharged into the environment.”
Ashley Brady, mayor of Marion, released the following statement:
“The city of Marion is aware of the indictments against two of its employees. We are monitoring the situation and are in the process of determining what action, if any, needs to be taken against them by the city of Marion. However, because this is a personnel matter, there will be no further comment until their charges are resolved through the legal process.”
WMBF News reached out in person to both Cooper and Ammons. They said they had no comment, but that their lawyers would speak for them.
“I have looked into the matter and I’m convinced that the indictments here were ill advised and that my client has participated in no criminal conduct,” Morgan Martin, Cooper’s attorney, said. “And I believe that a thorough review of all the facts surrounding this will establish that.”