Friday, September 5, 2014
Dorchester County Republican Party Chairman Jordan Bryngelson has been indicted on a count of forgery.
Bryngelson, 33, said he learned of the indictment last week and voluntarily accepted service, but that he hasn’t seen any documents associated with the case except for the indictment itself.
He referred further questions to his attorney, and closed his brief e-mail with a quotation from Proverbs: “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”
According to the indictment and a Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office incident report, a supplier called Blue Line Rental said Bryngelson, as president of Bryngelson Construction, forged a signature on a final lien waiver and presented it to C.F. Evans Construction in June.
Blue Line told the sheriff’s office that Bryngelson then received $2,500 that was owed to Blue Line.
State Rep. Chris Murphy, who represents Blue Line, said the case started out as a civil collections case, with Blue Line attempting to collect from Bryngelson Construction, the subcontractor on a job.
However, when Blue Line contacted contractor C.F. Evans to request payment from retainage funds – money that a contractor typically holds until it’s satisfied that the subcontractors have paid their suppliers – C.F. Evans informed Blue Line that those funds had been released to the subcontractor, Bryngelson, because he had submitted a lien waiver signed by a representative of Blue Line.
No one at Blue Line knew anything about this, nor had they seen any such document, Murphy said.
“The document came from his computer, the name of the individual was misspelled, there were numerous spelling errors throughout the document, the client had never seen or heard of it,” Murphy said. “At this point I advised the client to get an affidavit of forgery.”
“Basically, a document was forged and he took $2,500 that he was not entitled to,” he said.
Murphy said he could not comment on the criminal investigation, but he was confident that the Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office thoroughly investigated the matter.
“At the end of the day, we did all we could,” Murphy said. “We tried to help him. Nobody wanted this, but when a criminal allegation comes up, it ties our hands.”
Bryngelson’s attorney, Russell Hilton, said he did not yet have any information beyond the indictment as of Wednesday afternoon. He did note that when his client became informed of the situation, he voluntarily went to be served with the indictment and was released on a personal recognizance bond, to which Blue Line did not object.
Bryngelson has long been active in the Republican Party, a family tradition that he is passing on to his young daughter, who has accompanied her parents to party events.
Bryngelson served on the state GOP executive committee, and in 2012 he ran in the primary against Ed Carter for the Statehouse 97 seat.
He emphasized bringing jobs and improved education to the upper county, but Carter emphasized Bryngelson’s relative youth.
At the time, Bryngelson was also dealing with the threatened foreclosure of his home.
He said then he had been a victim of the economy, having lost his job at the family construction business, and that he “worked hard to pay my bills and be responsible and not back out of the debt I owe.”
He said he and his wife worked several jobs to get caught up and that the experience showed he had insight into the struggles of average Americans.
After losing his construction job, Bryngelson worked for a time as an insurance agent.
“The rich and retired should not be the only people who serve in public office. It’s time for a middle class working American who knows the struggles of everyday life to represent us,” he said then.
In any event, he lost to Carter, who then lost in November to incumbent Rep. Patsy Knight.
The foreclosure proceedings, however, appear to live on.
Records show Bryngelson sold the property for $5 in February to SouthStar Capital, a Mt. Pleasant company that provides businesses with working capital to improve cash flow. Although the transfer was signed in February, it wasn’t recorded in the Register of Deeds office until May.
According to a June notice of sale, a Special Referee intended to sell the property to the highest bidder at the Dorchester County Courthouse on July 14.
The house was destroyed by fire July 7. No one was home at the time.
In addition to his political activity, Bryngelson had also recently been appointed to the Dorchester County Sales Tax Authority. Ironically, Dorchester County Council voted Tuesday to revamp the DCTA. It reduced the authority to seven members instead of nine and wiped the membership slate clean; council members agreed every authority member position would be up for a vote at the Sept. 15 meeting.
Dorchester County Council Chairman Bill Hearn, who said he learned of the situation Wednesday afternoon, expressed his shock and concern. He also said that, given the situation, Bryngelson would most likely not be reappointed to the DCTA.
Councilman David Chinnis, who appointed Bryngelson to DCTA, said he learned of the situation Wednesday, the day after council voted to revamp the DCTA.
“I am very shocked by this whole thing,” he said.
Chinnis said he had been planning to meet with Bryngelson to see how he felt about serving on DCTA and if he had time for it. However, given the turn of events, it would be unlikely that he would reappoint Bryngelson.
“I believe a person is innocent until proven guilty, but this (DCTA) is not going to be first and foremost in his mind,” he said. “We need someone who will be able to focus on the road projects.”