Prosecutors say suspended sheriff was power hungry

During opening statements of suspended Chesterfield County Sheriff's Sam Parker's trial, prosecutors said Parker strayed away from what was right, because he became power hungry.

"Sam Parker strayed from that platform, that he initially ran on. And to him, it became all about the power, despite the people," said Kinli Abee, Assistant SC Attorney General.

The State Law Enforcement Division arrested Parker last March on charges of Misconduct In Office, Embezzlement and Furnishing Contraband To Inmates.

Abee said, "Being one of Sam Parker's inmates came with perks. It came with freedoms and placed you on a level even above his own employees."

Parker's attorneys argued those inmates were treated differently for a reason.

"These individuals have been designated by the State of South Carolina in Columbia as persons that are entitled to be treated differently. These individuals are not motivated against escape or against committing re-offending crimes because of razor. The State of SC says they're not flight risk. Therefore we will put them in a county to assist that county. The State of SC says they're not dangerous to re-offend, " said Gregg Harris, Parker's Attorney.

Prosecutors told jurors Parker deposited county money into his personal bank account and misused a county boat.

"This boat was never used for rescue purposes, but what you will hear is that it was used for Mr. Parker's personal shrimping boat," said Abee.

Parker's attorney said the boat was used for the benefit of county employees.

Harris explained, "A boat that was used to shrimp. When the shrimp went to deputies for fish fries. When the shrimp went to members of your citizenry for camaraderie."

Prosecutors said Parker gave away guns, including M14's and Sniper Rifles to people that didn't even work for the sheriff's office.

His attorneys added the weapons were issued to people that were being trained to work for the sheriff's office.

They went on to say the prosecution's claims that Parker is corrupt are baseless.

Harris said, "This is a man whose been shot once for this county in the line of duty. This is a man whose been stabbed twice in the line of duty. This is a man that's been beaten on numerous occasions. In order for you to find that Sam Parker, Sheriff Sam Parker, is corrupt, that's what they're going to ask you to do. You must find as to all corruption charges that he was dishonest."

More than 100 people have been subpoenaed to testify, including the two inmates whom he's accused of giving preferential treatment.

The trial is expected to last through next week.