York County Coroner Doug McKown might lose his job again.
And he might go to prison. Or he could keep the office he returned to in June after a nearly two-year suspension.
The process that will determine McKown's future is scheduled to begin next week at the Moss Justice Center in York, the same complex where the 39-year-old coroner was acquitted of felony cocaine charges in May.
McKown was sentenced to a year's probation after being convicted in May of unlawfully possessing a prescription drug, a misdemeanor charge tied to a half-pill of Viagra that police found in his home.
A hearing has been scheduled for 11:30 a.m. next Tuesday to determine if the probation case against the coroner will move forward. Last week, McKown was cited in North Carolina after authorities say he was drinking beer while driving a county vehicle and traveling with a man suspected of smoking crack cocaine.
McKown was arrested the following day in York County on a charge that he violated his probation by lying to a probation agent and supervisor about his North Carolina arrest, not immediately notifying an agent of his arrest and leaving the state without permission, among other offenses.
McKown claims he wasn't drinking in North Carolina and his passenger, 43-year-old Eric Howell of Gastonia, N.C., wasn't using drugs.
Despite that, the York County Council voted late Monday to strip McKown of his county-issued Chevrolet Blazer through the remainder of his term, which ends about the end of this year.
Buddy Motz, council chairman, said Monday night: "We felt like, in a small way, we could show that we're not condoning it."
Motz said the reason for the move wasn't just McKown's arrest last week but because of McKown's conduct the past two years.
At next week's hearing, an officer with the state Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services will hear both sides of the issue and decide if the case should go before a circuit court judge, said Pete O'Boyle, a spokesman for the agency.
McKown's probation requirements could be stiffened, meaning more visits to his probation agent or more hours of community service, O'Boyle said. If a judge hears the case, he or she could force McKown to serve a year in prison.
After McKown was acquitted of the cocaine charges, he returned to the post Gov. Mark Sanford suspended him from in 2006.
Should McKown go to prison for violating his probation, he would be removed from office, Joel Sawyer, Sanford's spokesman, said Monday night.
McKown didn't have much to say Monday.
"It's just too much to talk about," he said of his legal situation. "Everything ... (is) in limbo right now."
McKown said he is still the coroner, although he acknowledged he hasn't done much work since returning to the post.
McKown has responded to only one death call in his nearly two months back on the job, according to county records.
Chief Deputy Coroner David Chambers said McKown told him to manage the office's day-to-day operations when he came back to work.
"Until I'm told different," Chambers said, "that's what I'll do."
Chambers said office employees will continue doing the work they always do.
"We're just moving right along, carrying on, doing the best we can under the circumstances," he said. "It's just another day in the life of the coroner's office."