According to public records, Town Councilman and mayoral candidate Mack Durham has judgments and liens extending back several years including tax liens going back to 2005 and judgments issued by The U.S. District Court in Greenville as recently as August of this year.
Durham’s Palmetto Family Medical Group was most recently ordered to pay a former employee, Glenn Abernathy, approximately $27,000 that was not placed into his personal retirement account as required.
The Palmetto Medical Group incurred tax liens totaling approximately $50,000 during the years 2005-2009. Dr. Durham told The Journal that all those liens have been satisfied and there have been no further liens since then.
The documents received also included records of two judgments against the Palmetto Medical Group. Those two judgments, awarded to two former practitioners at the Palmetto Medical Group, also totaled upwards of $50,000.
One judgment was awarded in September of this year to Abernathy, who retired from his practice due to vision problems.
“He was lucky enough to secure a teaching position and we were glad to see things work out for him,” said Durham. “But at the time, we were using a payroll service provided by our bank. There were problems with Glenn’s 401K that we were unaware of. We are currently on a payment schedule set by the U.S. Department of Labor, and we are making those payments to Glenn.”
The other judgment, in the amount of $22,300 was awarded to Sunil Bhatta, a psychologist who oversaw the Palmetto Group’s counseling services for a time. “The services we provided were for women and children who had been abused, for the most part. That practice was flourishing until the state General Assembly slashed funding for mental health programs,” Durham said.
Palmetto Family Medical Group also has judgments filed by a medical staffing company that was contracted to provide a doctor at the facility.
MedCare Staffing has a judgment for $27,757 in 2010. Medical Doctors Association also has a judgment in 2011 for $93,905.37.
According to Durham, the company did not fulfill a contract to see a certain number of patients.
“They did not fulfill a contract with us,” Durham said. “We paid them tens of thousands of dollars. Under the contract they had to produce a certain amount of services. According to Durham they never reached the required number of patients to break even and were not seeing patients in a timely manner, causing patients long wait times and eventually a loss of patients.
Durham said the MedCare Staffing company was sold to the national company Medical Doctors Association. The larger amount is for legal fees the company is seeking, Durham said.
Durham describes the various events that led to his business’s financial straits as a “perfect storm”.
“I have been in business in the Williamston Community for over 20 years and have seen many businesses come and go. If you ask any business owner it’s clear that our local economy is continuing to decline. I do not know of any business in our town that has not had financial difficulties and even gone through financial restructuring including The Journal and even the Town itself,” Durham said.
“I do not know of any business that has endured the severity of trials and hardships that we have endured to keep our business in Williamston. I have learned many lessons over the years and have made mistakes along the way, but I have always honored any financial obligation as I continue to do.”
Incumbent Mayor Carthel Crout has stated that the history of liens and financial judgments reflect on Durham’s ability to manage the Town’s finances if he were to be elected Mayor.
Durham has stated for months that Crout is leading the town into financial difficulty by overspending on the budget and not following the town’s purchasing policies.
“He’s lived a life of entitlement and has never had to sacrifice to make a payroll,” Durham said. “All he knows how to do is increase fees, taxes and your water bill to cover his financial obligations because he thinks that he answers to no one. But he will soon have to answer to the voters of this town,” Durham said.
“We also have an administrator who can’t even keep our departments within budget. Maybe it’s because she’s been absent from our town offices for over 70 days this year. If we continue this course the Mayor and Administrator will have spent us into a $700,000 deficit and wasted millions of dollars of unbudgeted money by the end of our current fiscal year. I think it’s time for both of them to go.”