The sheriff of Chester County, South Carolina is staring down a federal investigation, multiple sources familiar with the situation told this news outlet on Friday.
It is not immediately clear what investigators are looking at with respect to the office run by sheriff Alex “Big A” Underwood, but we are told agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are leading the probe.
And that the investigation is rapidly nearing a point of critical mass …
Underwood is no stranger to scandal. In 2014, he was accused of threatening local leaders over a funding dispute. Two years later, he was implicated in an alleged affair with a local cheerleading coach.
We are told these allegations are much more serious …
Underwood is reportedly one of several local law enforcement officers/ prosecutors whose management of seized assets has been called into question in recent months. Last December, we reported exclusively on allegations involving seized drug funds related to another rural South Carolina sheriff – Kenney Boone of Florence County, S.C.
According to our sources, there are “multiple investigations” underway related to various law enforcement accounts all across the state – probes being led by a myriad of different investigative agencies. And while our sources declined to discuss a list of potential targets, we have been told to expect action on these investigations “sooner rather than later.”
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(Via: U.S. Attorney’s Office)
The scandal scarred ex-prosecutor was busted spending funds from his office on swanky parties, cab and Uber rides, club and gym memberships and hotel rooms all over the world.
Johnson’s problems began over a year ago in the wake of a dispute with influential Columbia, S.C. attorney (and recently elected state senator) Dick Harpootlian. Last February, Harpootlian’s group – Public Access to Public Records (PAPR) – released voluminous records exposing questionable payments within the solicitor’s office.
Johnson and his former aide, Nicole Holland, have both been indicted at the federal and state level on charges related to misappropriated funds and alleged efforts to cover up the expenses. In fact, both were hit with fresh state charges just last month.
We praised Lydon for her work on the Johnson case, but also challenged her to do more.
Is her office listening? We shall see …
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According to our sources, many of the investigations currently taking place in the Palmetto State revolve around the disposition of seized funds – which have become a cause célèbre following a series of reports published in The Greenville News earlier this year.
This news outlet began writing about the issue of civil asset forfeiture (a.k.a. glorified government theft) years ago.
“South Carolina’s legislature needs to move quickly to protect its citizens from the unconstitutional government theft of their property,” we wrote in June of 2015.
In the fall of 2016, we ran another report exposing some highly questionable forfeiture decisions made by the office of Spartanburg County, S.C. sheriff Chuck Wright. Some of these questionable decisions finally made it into the mainstream media (specifically the Greenville News series) last month.
We have also rebuked federal leaders – including former U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions – for ramping up the use of this constitutionally dubious tactic in early 2017, referring to it as “an unnecessary and dangerous expansion of the authority of government.”
How bad is the problem in South Carolina?
Guess we are about to find out …
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