CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD) – Records show a chief deputy with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office received a positive performance review prior to her firing in April.

News 2 obtained a memorandum from the sheriff’s office which shows Sheriff Kristin Graziano granted a salary increase to Joyce Smith in December for her performance during a period of January 4, 2021, to January 4, 2022.

Smith was terminated as chief deputy on April 1st, 2022 because she was in default on paying her student loans, something that is required when working for a government agency in South Carolina.

“Your willful default on student loans has rendered it unlawful for my office to continue to employ you,” said Sheriff Graziano in her termination letter. The sheriff went on to say there were also “truthfulness infractions” that required her separation from the sheriff’s office.

Details about those infractions have not yet been revealed.

Smith was hired to work for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office as one of two chief deputies shortly after Sheriff Graziano began her term in December 2020.

Sheriff Graziano said she presented Smith with an opportunity to become compliant with paying off her student loans to remain employed by the sheriff’s office.

“At the time I first became aware of your default in 2020, I discussed the situation with you, and you made representations that you misunderstood the CARES Act Federal Student loan protections to be an automatic, penalty-free deferral,” said Sheriff Graziano in her termination letter. “You also assured me that you were taking steps that included entering a Rehabilitation Agreement with the load providers to bring your accounts current.”

During a check of her credit report in January 2022, Graziano said HR discovered she was in default and had entered a collection status. But after two months, the sheriff said Smith was still not compliant and felt she had to uphold the law.