Scandal Rocks Columbia Police Department’s Drug Lab

PROSECUTOR’S COMPLAINT LEADS TO SHUTDOWN OF FACILITY S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Dan Johnson dropped a bombshell on South Carolina’s capital city late Friday, sending members of the S.C. Bar Association a memo outlining problems with the City of Columbia’s drug analysis laboratory. That facility has been instructed to “cease operation”…


S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Dan Johnson dropped a bombshell on South Carolina’s capital city late Friday, sending members of the S.C. Bar Association a memo outlining problems with the City of Columbia’s drug analysis laboratory.

That facility has been instructed to “cease operation” as of August 21, Johnson says.

According to Johnson’s memo – sent to attorneys after 7:00 p.m. on Friday evening – his office learned “that there may be issues with the quality of forensic drug chemistry cases prepared by Brenda Frazier,” an employee at the lab.

Johnson’s memo goes on to say that the lab was shut down by city of Columbia police chief William Holbrook on Thursday – and that his office will now “submit drug evidence to SLED for analysis.”

SLED is the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division – an agency of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s cabinet.

According to Johnson’s memo, Frazier “may not possess the knowledge necessary to competently perform drug analysis.”  He adds that “the choice of proper sampling and/ or sample selection methods may not be familiar to or well understood by Brenda Frazier.”

Ouch …

Specifically, Johnson accuses Frazier of failing to maintain an acceptable storage temperature for the physical evidence in the lab.

“Temperature and lack of ventilation may result in degradation of physical evidence,” he writes.

Needless to say, this scandal is going to have a major impact on a great number of criminal cases.

“The Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office is currently in the process of conducting a case-by-case audit of all City of Columbia drug cases analyzed by Brenda Frazier in order to determine the best course of action to ensure fair and ethical prosecution and dispositions,” Johnson writes.

Obviously this website’s view on the criminalization of drugs – and government’s failed “War on Drugs’ – is well-known.  We oppose both.  However if Johnson’s allegations are true – and from the City’s response it appears as though they are – this is the latest in a long line of police incompetence in South Carolina’s capital city.

Either that or something super nefarious is going on behind the scenes …

Adding a layer of intrigue to Johnson’s bombshell? According to our sources, members of Columbia’s city council were never informed of the issues involving the drug lab – even though it appears city staffers first learned of the allegations in mid-June.


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Squishy123 August 22, 2014 at 8:48 pm

Brenda Frazier… Danny Frazier… any connection? Is this yet another bit of corruption by the Lexington Mafia?

easterndumbfuckistan August 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Well Leon the Don of the Lott Crime Family has lost control of CPD so now he sends in his enforcer Dan “the muscle” Johnson to fuck with the City again. Someone please rid us of Lott and all his cronies including Kershaw County Sheriff Jim “Federalie” Matthews.

nitrat August 22, 2014 at 9:24 pm

It is strange indeed that a solicitor would call in the county sheriff’s lab manager to assess this rather than SLED.
But, does a solicitor have the authority to do that outside of a criminal investigation?

truthmonger August 22, 2014 at 11:00 pm

Dan used to work for Leon. Something is up…. And it seems strange that Danny-O would send a letter to Bar Association members openly like than, instead of having assistant solicitors who have the cases go direct with defendants’ lawyers.
Sic is showing his bias, though. The WLTX article is more detailed and shows the new Chief as playing by the rules. Was it Columbia who arrested him for CDV back in the day?
That said, it’s bad. From what I’m gathering from the articles, the PD hasn’t been given the facilities or resources it needs to do the job right.

Inciteful August 23, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Several candidates for the chief’s job backed out when they figured the depth of corruption within the department and city. Much more news to come here.

CorruptionInColumbia August 23, 2014 at 8:16 am

It really makes me wonder. The Lott Family may still be sore that they lost control of CPD when Leon’s “best and brightest” had behavioral issues and fumbled the ball.

Fully with you on your last sentence. Hollywood Jim seems to have a terminal case of the “canthelpits” that only KC Council can cure. He needs moar money because of piss poor management of his manpower resources. He needs a draconian law against discharging firearms in the county because he doesn’t want to just enforce state law, which is apparently good enough for most other Sheriffs in the state. What will he want next, someone to wipe his ass when he takes a dump?

Elfego August 23, 2014 at 9:55 am

That is why he is backing Sheheen he may need a job after the election!

ravenhaired vixen August 22, 2014 at 9:14 pm

Sounds like someone needed to have their drug analysis expunged via blaming the “incompetent” employee….let’s see who’s records can’t hold up in court because the dumb girl did the testing???????

euwe max August 22, 2014 at 9:48 pm

I was hoping for an exciting story like someone in the lab was sneaking samples out of the lab in their blood stream… or while handling an innocuous looking piece of paraphernalia, some exotic hallucinogen was absorbed through the pores at the contact site.

But NOOOoooo… we get a story about incompetent temperature sensor management.

jimlewisowb August 22, 2014 at 10:01 pm

Don’t understand why SLED has to be called

City Manager Czarina Wilson sits above Ms. Frazier on the organizational chart so she obviously knows more than Ms. Frazier therefore why not let her take over operation of the lab

No sh*t August 22, 2014 at 10:29 pm

The city Council doesn’t care about the punishment of the drug crimes. Most of them are protecting their constituents. They would like nothing better than for those charged, and rightfully so but still only charged, to get off so they can put them back in office. I’m sure most of the city Council supports T – Rav also for the same reasons

The Colonel August 22, 2014 at 11:46 pm

The Columbia Police Department crime lab has to be one of the most inept, poorly managed and inefficient in the state, and that’s saying something. I’m personally aware of one case where the judge ate the prosecutor and the CPD’s ass for failing to do anything with the evidence they had gathered in an alleged attempted murder. The charge itself stems from a provoked fight and the department/prosecutor have already been told they’re over the top on the charge. The case is more than a year old and there is still no effort on the part of the CPD to process the evidence. The former SLED chief criminalist describes the CPD lab as a black hole of idiocy.

Deo Vindice SC August 23, 2014 at 4:36 pm

Frag, and done.

truthmonger August 23, 2014 at 8:35 pm

We ALL know how the City LOVES to properly fund necessities…. JUUUST a bit outside….

Beartrkkr August 23, 2014 at 12:12 am

Sounds like a perfect position for Lilian McBride.

derp August 23, 2014 at 2:17 am

Revenue collectors gaming the system to ensure greater collection? Imagine that.

Todd August 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

‘Motion to reconsider’ anyone?

Smirks August 23, 2014 at 8:42 am

You too can be a successful forensics person like Brenda, just call your local for-profit McCollege and we’ll get you a degree printed on the back of a Chinese takeout menu in two and a half years (and nearly $100k in student loan debts)!

GrandTango August 23, 2014 at 8:56 am

But hey- FITS “LIKES” Mayor Steve Benjamin and implies that voter integrity laws are racist… because pop culture tells him (and establishment media) to.

So if you believe in honest government, whatcha gonna do?

Columbia Bruddas August 23, 2014 at 10:08 am

Who made the decision to hire and or promote? Was she on her knees in a locked closet for someone?

Jackie Chiles August 23, 2014 at 3:45 pm


Carol August 23, 2014 at 4:52 pm

Haleys cabinet agencies have scandals brewing ..other than DSS….stay tuned..:)

Soft Sigh from Hell August 24, 2014 at 5:26 pm

You know it’s something dishonest or dirty, it is just hard to tell what.

Maybe the lady is another McBride or worse, someone’s incompetent favorite needing a job. Or maybe she’s competent and they need to get some big shot off on a technicality and they throw her under the bus.

Either is perfectly believable..

ravenhaired vixen August 24, 2014 at 8:19 pm

Dan’s been in office how long? Wilson too? ….and no one saw this before? Who hired these “unqualified” people? Was there not a job description? Hmmmm…something seems dirrrrrty in Denmark!

Concerned CitizenX August 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

Someone is being creative about who first discovered this problem? I realize this is long, but please do me a favor and read carefully. Thx.
Did Holbrook first notify Johnson, who coincidentally was concurrently being advised by an asst. solicitor about the problem, or did Johnson initially inform Holbrook about the lab issues, in a June 16 letter, prompting Holbrook to “immediately” contact the RCSD, upon learning about the problem?
One of these scenarios is definitely possible. However, both scenarios couldn’t have possibly occurred. To believe this article and more specifically, The State’s article, you have to assume that Holbrook forgot that he initially informed Dan Johnson, who also forgot being informed. Therefore, when Dan Johnson had a revelation, due to a minion’s hunch, he took immediate action by notifying Holbrook, who subsequently acted immediately, as well.

WIS Article:
“A drug analyst with the Columbia Police Department has resigned after a memo from Fifth Circuit Solicitor Dan Johnson raised questions about the quality of work at the department’s drug lab.”

“Columbia Police Deputy Chief Melron Kelly said Frazier had been hired at the lab in late 2011. In 2012, Kelly said, the lab’s veteran chemist left, leaving only Frazier.”

“Kelly said it’s been the practice of the lab to have all cases it handles peer reviewed by other departments. At some point, Kelly said, those peer reviews stopped, causing a backlog in cases at the lab.”

“Kelly said this development alarmed Chief Holbrook and contributed to the audit being ordered.”

The State Article:

“After assuming the chief’s post, Holbrook said, he initiated a department-wide quality assessment that included the drug lab. The assessment pointed to questions about the lab, he said, and he contacted the solicitor’s office. Also, Johnson’s office was learning through one of his assistant prosecutors there might be problems with some of the city drug analyses.”

“On June 16, Johnson said, he sent Holbrook a letter asking him to look into the situation. Holbrook immediately contacted the Richland County Sheriff’s Department and got expert drug analyst Demetra Garvin to look into the situation.”

COLUMBIA, SC: Columbia police drug

CPD drug analyst resigns after audit questioned her methodology

The Devil August 27, 2014 at 7:15 am

No surprises here. I used to work in the lab at Town of Lexington. No protocol, Too many officer using lab chemicals and equipment. Sloppy paperwork, you name it. All under the authority of the mighty jay Koon. Everyone is so glad Lexington County is taking him on loan for a while.


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