Chalk up yet another one for our network of sources …
Two weeks ago, this news outlet reported that veteran South Carolina GOP strategist Richard Quinn – the godfather of an empire that amassed unrivaled, near-unprecedented power in Palmetto political circles over the last two decades – was in trouble with the law again.
Specifically, we reported that Quinn was “not completely off the hook” in connection with #ProbeGate – a sprawling anti-corruption investigation that resulted in the removal from office of multiple South Carolina Republican legislative leaders between 2014-2018.
Most of these leaders were Quinn confidantes. One of them was his son and business partner, former House majority leader Rick Quinn.
Even more specifically, we noted that the 74-year-old advisor had allegedly “fallen into a perjury trap” during his April 2018 testimony before a statewide grand jury in connection with #ProbeGate investigation.
Shortly after noon on Thursday, April 18, 2019 – a year after his testimony – the trap slammed shut.
According to a news release from the office of S.C. first circuit solicitor David Pascoe, Richard Quinn was indicted by a statewide grand jury this week on eleven counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice.
The perjury charge is a felony that carries with it a five-year maximum sentence. The obstruction charge is a misdemeanor that carries with it a ten-year sentence. Both charges could also subject Quinn to fines – the specific amounts of which would be determined by the court.
No bond hearing has been scheduled in Quinn’s case at this point, and the aging strategist was not arrested. He will remain free until he is due to appear in court.
“’Mr. Quinn will be allowed to formally accept service of the true billed indictment and attend his bond hearing on the same date,” Pascoe’s release noted.
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“At this point in the process the indictment is a mere accusation,” Pascoe said in a statement. “Mr. Quinn is presumed innocent until proven guilty. I also to wish to point out that several matters are still pending with this investigation. Therefore, I will have no further comment regarding today’s indictment.”
During its four-year run, #ProbeGate took down five ranking members of the S.C. General Assembly: Former House majority leader Rick Quinn, former House speaker Bobby Harrell, former Senate president John Courson, former House majority leader Jimmy Merrill and former House judiciary chairman (and state code commissioner) Jim Harrison.
The case of another former lawmaker – Tracy Edge of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. – is pending. Meanwhile, appeals involving Harrison’s case and Rick Quinn’s sentencing are also pending.
With the exception of Harrell, all of these ex-lawmakers were part of “the Quinndom” – the political “family” of the elder Quinn, who saw his lucrative and influential business implode over course of the investigation.
Almost all of these ex-leaders pleaded guilty to misconduct charges as part of their plea deals. Harrison was the only one who took his case to trial – where he was found guilty by a Richland County jury.
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The legendary strategist – known in Palmetto political circles as “the oracle” – had a huge list of influential clients, all of whom were eventually dragged into the investigation.
In fact, these clients were the focal point of the grand jury report that was released at the conclusion of the investigation (or what we thought was the conclusion).
“Corporate entities retained Richard Quinn for the purpose of gaining access to and influence over public officials, and by failing to report Quinn’s services, influenced the outcome of legislative matters with no accountability or disclosure to the public,” the grand jurors wrote.
Pascoe was even more blunt.
“(Quinn) used legislators, groomed legislators and conspired with legislators to violate multiple state ethics acts,” Pascoe said during a 2017 court hearing. “All so he could make money.”
“He was a very effective but illegal lobbyist,” Pascoe added, referring to Quinn. “All under the radar.”
Ironically, Quinn is facing significantly more jail time today than he was on the charges originally filed against him a year-and-a-half ago.
As Pascoe noted, Quinn is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system or until such time as he may wish to issue a plea in connection with the charges filed against him.
Stay tuned … this news site will obviously continue following this story and once again we appreciate our network of sources for helping our readers get a two-week jump on this particular bit of breaking news.
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