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Source:McKown to plead guilty

Suspended York County Coroner Doug McKown is expected to enter into a plea agreement next month with state prosecutors, according to a spokesman for the S.C. Attorney General's Office.

Details about the arrangement are vague, but office spokesman Mark Plowden said in an e-mail that the 38-year-old McKown is expected to plead guilty to misconduct in office, a misdemeanor offense.

Plowden would not elaborate on what would happen to the three drug charges that McKown was indicted on last year, except to say that the final disposition of all charges would be handled in court. Prosecutors hope to complete the agreement Sept. 17, according to the e-mail.

When asked why prosecutors aren't taking the case to trial, Plowden sent an e-mail reply saying the office would not "discuss legal strategy before the case is called."

When reached on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon, McKown said he was aware of a hearing for a plea agreement scheduled Sept. 17, but he referred all other questions to his attorney, Jack Swerling.

Swerling said he could not confirm the information from the attorney general's office but noted that he found it unusual that such a statement would be made before the case went to court.

"It's premature to discuss any disposition of the case," he said.

McKown was suspended from office on July 21, 2006, a day after a grand jury indicted him on charges of distribution of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of a prescription drug.

The indictments stem from a May 2006 incident in which police say they have a video that shows McKown watching as his former girlfriend, Erin Jenkins, makes a drug deal in York.

Police informants claim McKown gave Jenkins money to buy cocaine and Ecstasy, used the drugs himself and stored cocaine at his Clover home, according to a search warrant.

The suspension severed McKown from office until the charges are resolved.

Amid the struggles of his criminal case, McKown also dealt with unrelated ethics violations.

McKown admitted the violations in January, moments before his state Ethics Commission hearing was to begin. He later signed a consent order, admitting to four violations of using his public office for personal gain and using his county vehicle for noncoroner business.

The Ethics Commission issued McKown a public reprimand and fined him $1,000.

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