CHESTERFIELD, S.C. — Three sheriff’s deputies in South Carolina have been arrested after they reported a dead body in what investigators said were hoax phone calls in four small towns.

The Chesterfield County deputies were charged Monday with misconduct in office, criminal conspiracy and aggravated breach of the peace, according to the warrants from the State Law Enforcement Division.

Five phone calls reporting a dead body were made either to a convenience store or to police Feb. 4 in the small towns of Cheraw, Chesterfield, McBee and Pageland, which are all in Chesterfield County, investigators said.

In each case officers and other emergency workers responded until it was determined the reports were not true, the warrants said.

Investigators did not say why the phone calls were made or release any additional details.

Court records did not indicate if the deputies had lawyers to speak on their behalf.

A statement from state agents called the three men arrested “former deputies” but the sheriff’s office didn’t confirm they had been fired after saying they were suspended last week.

Chesterfield County is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) northeast of Columbia. The county has more than 50 sworn officers in the sheriff’s office protecting its 43,000 residents.

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