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Senator ousts 4 Chester Co. judges, keeps Angel Underwood, wife of suspended sheriff

Four Chester County magistrates are out of a job after state Sen. Mike Fanning’s new selection of magistrates started their four-year terms Wednesday.

All five county magistrates, including Chief Magistrate Angel Underwood, were up for replacement in 2019. Only Underwood will be keeping her position.

Democrat Fanning has selected Theodore Wilder, Olivia “Kim” Williford, Dana Greenleaf and Angela Boyd to take on county magistrate positions.

In a Facebook post Monday, Fanning said more than 50 people expressed interest and dozens of people applied for the Chester County magistrate positions.

“In order to insure an unbiased review, Fanning then assembled a team of current or former magistrates – from surrounding counties (outside of Chester) – to evaluate applications, interview finalists, and make recommendations for appointment,” he said in his Facebook post.

Underwood’s husband, suspended Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday to charges of abuse of police powers, false arrest conspiracy and other alleged violations.

Fanning has publicly shown support for Alex Underwood, posting a call for support on Facebook before the sheriff’s indictment, and a photo of Fanning and his wife out to dinner with Angel and Alex Underwood May 13, days after Alex Underwood’s indictments were announced.

“Our Chester County Sheriff has gone above and beyond what is required of him as a law enforcement professional,” Fanning said in his April 29 Facebook post. “Let us not allow this to lead us to forget his many accomplishments, achievements, and his genuine love and decades of service to Chester County.”

Angel , a judge in Chester since 2011, was suspended as a Chester County magistrate judge for about a year in 2015 as court administrators investigated a potential conflict of interest.

The S.C. Supreme Court lifted that suspension in 2016, but issued a public reprimand, saying the judge had overseen more than 100 cases in which she should have explained her relationship to the sheriff, or allowed the case to be heard by another judge.

Underwood was named chief magistrate of Chester County in 2018, according to the News and Reporter.

Fanning was not available for interview Wednesday, but he told The Chester News and Reporter that he stood by his reappointment of family friend Angel Underwood.

Newly appointed Wilder is a career U.S. army veteran and has served as a Municipal Magistrate Judge in Chester, Fanning said in his announcement Monday.

Fanning said Williford is a lifelong Chester County resident who previously worked as administrator coordinator for business services at York Technical College in Rock Hill.

Greenleaf also is a career U.S. Army veteran, Fanning said. He is a volunteer firefighter with the Great Falls Fire Department.

Boyd is pastor at the metropolitan AME Zion Church in Chester, Fanning said, and taught in Chester County schools for 13 years before working as a adjunct professor at Clinton College and York Technical College.

The four newly appointed magistrate judges will replace Barbara H. Cameron, Wylie G. Frederick, Lenard Price and Yale Zamore, according to the S.C. Courts website.

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