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Former building inspectors sentenced

Two former Beaufort County building codes enforcement employees were sentenced to prison on Thursday, January 23 for accepting bribes in 2012.

Larry Fields, 63, of St. Helena Island, and Harold Cosby, 67, of Shell Point, each pled guilty to one count of bribery. The Solicitor’s Office recommended a sentence of two years in prison and the defendants’ attorneys requested probation. The sentencing was left up to Judge Brooks Goldsmith, who sentenced both men to one year in prison.

In 2012, after receiving information that both men were accepting bribes in exchange for preferential treatment, the Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office assigned Master Sgt. Brian Baird and Lt. Matt Averill to investigate. A building contractor informant agreed to give Fields $600 in building materials in advance of an electrical inspection in Belfair.

The same informant then met with Cosby, who was responsible for issuing permits, in the parking lot of the county offices. He gave Cosby $300 in cash and received a certificate of occupancy for a home.

“By accepting the bribes, the employees violated the trust of the community and compromised the integrity of the building permitting and inspection process,” said assistant solicitor Francine Norz, who prosecuted the case. “We expect these essential functions of government to be performed professionally, by the book and with no preferential treatment.”

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