Guilty on all counts for suspended Chesterfield County sheriff
Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:19:21 GMT —
After about four hours of deliberations, a jury found the suspended Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker guilty on all counts. The judge sentenced him to two years in prison and three years probation.
He was charged with two counts of Furnishing Contraband To Inmates, five counts of Misconduct In Office and one count of Embezzlement.
Parker apologized to the Chesterfield County community shortly before his sentencing.
"Today is a sad day in my life. I just want to tell you I respect the verdict. I want to apologize to Chesterfield County for what's taken place. What I put this county through. Your honor, I also want to apologize to my department, my men and women I've drawn embarrassment to. I just want to tell them I still love them," said Parker.
The State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is taking Parker to be housed at a state prison in Columbia. It is unclear which prison he will be housed in for the next two years.
Judge Lee Alford sentenced Parker and told him that he caused many people to lose faith in the justice system. He told Parker he had a chance to correct his mistakes, but chose not to do the right thing.
SLED began investigating how Parker was treating two inmates last January. That's when a whistleblower inmate revealed what was going on at the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office and Detention Center after Parker sent the inmate back to state prison.
Parker's attorneys have said the inmate told Parker he was going to get him because the inmate was mad about going back to state prison.
They said the inmate lied on the stand during his testimony and even lied to the grand jury.
South Carolina Deputy Attorney General Solicitor Heather Weiss told jurors Parker ignored the SC Department Of Corrections contract and guidelines for housing inmates at state prisons.
She said Parker knew it was wrong to allow inmates to shoot guns, drive patrol cars, go shopping, go to church, go on dates, possess iPads, attend town events and wear regular clothing.
Parker gave high-powered weapons to his friends with no intention of training them on how to use the guns, Weiss said.
She went on to tell jurors Parker deposited money that belonged to the county into his personal bank account. Weiss explained no matter how small the amount of money, it's still considered embezzlement.
Weiss argued Parker allowed two inmates to stay at the county armory without the permission of the SC Department of Corrections (SCDC).
Parker's attorney, Johnny Gasser, said SCDC did inspect the armory to possibly house inmates there. Gasser added it took inspectors months to get back to Parker.
He said when they did notify Parker and he learned how much money it would take to accommodate the armory for inmates, Parker sent the two inmates back to the county detention center.
Weiss told jurors Parker used county property for his personal use, including a shrimp boat. She said SLED took the shrimp boat from Parker's home when the investigation started.
Gasser argued Parker never used the boat for his personal use, but used it for the benefit of improving relations within his sheriff's office.
He went on to say Parker has spent thousands of dollars of his own money to buy things for the Sheriff's Office and repair county property.
Gasser said Parker never asked for one dime back from the county.
He told jurors Parker is a scapegoat and an easy target and that's why he was charged.
Gasser added the charges against Parker as they relate to furnishing contraband to inmates are policy violations and not crimes.
No word on if Parker's attorneys will appeal his sentence.