Reinstated coroner demands back pay

York County Coroner Doug McKown is asking the county to pay him for the nearly two years he was suspended from office.

But county officials have no plans to give that money to McKown, who resumed the coroner's post earlier this month after he was acquitted of felony cocaine charges.

McKown was found guilty of unlawfully possessing a prescription drug, but the misdemeanor conviction wasn't enough to keep him out of office.

Now that he's returned, he wants back pay.

“It's plain and simple,” McKown said. “I never should've been removed from office. I never should've lost a day's pay. I never should've lost a day's benefit. And I just want what I'm entitled to.”

Gov. Mark Sanford suspended McKown in July 2006, a day after he was indicted on felony drug charges. Sanford later appointed Sabrina Gast, coordinator of the local sexual assault nurse examiner program, to serve as interim coroner.

Gast left office when McKown took over June 2.

County Manager Jim Baker said today that McKown hasn't formally asked for back pay, but did request to talk with county officials about the matter.

Baker said the county has no obligation to pay McKown.

“We don't really think that that's our issue,” he said. “We didn't suspend him. We paid a coroner throughout the term of his suspension.”

The York County coroner serves a four-year term and is paid $63,521 annually.