Greenville County, South Carolina sheriff Will Lewis is looking to cut a deal that will keep him out of jail, according to multiple sources familiar with the status of an ongoing S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) investigation into the disgraced Upstate lawman.
According to our sources, the suspended sheriff is looking to negotiate a guilty plea (along with his resignation from office) in the hopes of avoiding time behind bars. We’re also told Lewis is cooperating with investigators as they pursue possible indictments against other members of his command staff.
Lewis was indicted last month on misconduct in office and obstruction of justice charges. He was suspended automatically according to state law, and governor Henry McMaster appointed former sheriff Johnny Mack Brown to fill the office on an interim basis.
If Lewis resigns, a special election would be held to fill the remaining time on his four-year term – which expires in two-and-a-half years.
The misconduct and obstruction charges against Lewis were filed in connection with SLED’s probe of sexual assault allegations against the 43-year-old sheriff. Both of those stories broke exclusively on this news site (here and here), incidentally. We were also the first media outlet to report on the details of Lewis’ alleged obstruction in response to SLED’s investigation of the unresolved sexual assault allegations.
Lewis’ case is being handled by S.C. sixteenth circuit solicitor Kevin Brackett, who was given the file after the solicitor originally tasked to oversee the case found himself at the heart of an unrelated scandal.[timed-content-server show=’2018-Jan-17 00:00:00′ hide=’2018-Jun-18 00:00:00′]
The Lewis case has been quite the soap opera …
Last month, we exclusively reported that Lewis’ office – and several other offices at the county law enforcement center in downtown Greenville – were bugged. These reports have since been confirmed by multiple other media outlets in the South Carolina Upstate.
Several weeks after our original report, Brianna Smith of WSPA TV 7 (CBS – Spartanburg) uncovered new information in the case. According to Smith, SLED agents served a warrant on Lewis’ home in addition to their raid of the sheriff’s office last month. During this search of the sheriff’s home, they obtained “more than 40 items – including 8 laptops, 2 iPads, 3 phones, 12 jump drives, 10 VHS tapes, 2 CD discs, and a GPS.”
According to Smith, one of the laptops sought by agents reportedly played a key role in the administration of the alleged bugging system – which appears to be in violation of federal wiretapping statutes.
According to our sources, these recordings have played a key role in Lewis’ decision to cooperate with investigators.
“They are going to plea down the recording charges for a resignation,” a source close to the investigation told us.
Okay … but what about the other charges the sheriff is facing?
Lewis has previously been accused of snooping on 24-year-old Savannah Nabors, a former sheriff’s office employee whom he allegedly stalked and harassed during her brief tenure with the department. In fact, sources close to the investigation told us that Lewis tried repeatedly to gain access to Nabors’ cell phone – at one point telling her “I will find a way to do it.”
More ominously, Nabors has accused Lewis of drugging and raping her during a March 2017 business trip to Charlotte, North Carolina. Those allegations are currently the subject of a parallel inquiry being conducted by the Charlotte-Mecklenberg police department.
In fairness, Nabors has engaged in some snooping of her own against the sheriff – recording several of their phone conversations last year. Several of these recordings were included in a seismic lawsuit filed against Lewis last fall (another story that broke exclusively on this site). In one of these recordings, the suspended sheriff discussed his plans to further an affair with Nabors (below) on the taxpayer dime – and cover it up. That’s ultimately what prompted us to call for his resignation last October.
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