South Carolina Highway Patrol Leader Retires Amid Scandal

Accountability at last? Or is this scandal just beginning?

Ten days after escaping criminal consequences in connection with a glaring example of preferential “justice,” a ranking leader of the South Carolina Highway Patrol (SCHP) retired from his post this week.

Captain Stacy Craven retired effective Friday, October 25 – less than two weeks after S.C. eleventh circuit solicitor Rick Hubbard declined to prosecute him in connection with allegations that he improperly meddled in the 2014 arrest of a prominent supporter of Clemson University

According to our sources, captain Michael Carson will take over command of Troop 3 – the Upstate post Craven is vacating – while first sergeant Joseph T. Morf will take over command of Troop 2, filling Carson’s post.

It is unclear whether the S.C. Department of Public Safety (SCDPS) will continue to investigate Craven in connection with the 2014 incident. It also remains to be seen whether he will be allowed to keep his law enforcement certification in the aftermath of his retirement.

Most interesting from our perspective? Where Craven, 57, will next seek employment …

Sources tell us they have a good idea where he is headed, but we will wait to see if those plans come to fruition before commenting further.

What landed Craven in hot water in the first place?

Our readers will recall we exclusively reported on this incident back in May, and followed up in July with a report that Craven was indeed the focus of the investigation.

To recap: At around 6:05 p.m. EDT on November 29, 2014 – after Clemson’s streak-busting 35-17 victory over rival South Carolina in football – Stanley Roy Riggins of Charlotte, N.C. (the brother of former Clemson board member David P. Riggins) was detained by SCHP lance corporal Michael Taylor for allegedly driving under the influence (DUI) and committing a liquor law violation on S.C. Highway 93 at Centennial Boulevard in Clemson, S.C.

(Click to view)

(Via: Getty Images)

According to an incident report obtained by this news outlet, Riggins was arrested on suspicion of DUI “stemming from a fight that had occurred after the Clemson/ Carolina football game.”

“Riggins … became aggrivated (sic) by a pedestrian who, he states, would not move out of his way,” the report noted. “He states that he then stopped his Land Rover, got out, and confronted him.”

During this confrontation, Riggins claimed to have been “shoved to the ground” prior to the pedestrian fleeing the scene.

After allegedly failing a field sobriety test, Riggins was taken into custody and transported to the Pickens County, S.C. detention center – where the SCHP incident report indicated he was offered (and refused) a breathalyzer examination.

There is no record of any charge being filed against him in connection with this incident, however.

Why not? Because according to an investigation conducted by the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), Craven kept that from happening.

From our recent coverage …

According to the SLED report, Craven intervened – stopping the breathalyzer examination as it was being administered and taking personal custody of Riggins. As a result, Riggins – who was described by Craven as “a top contributor to Clemson University” – was never booked at the Pickens detention center and there was no record of his arrest.

Craven literally walked the influential businessman right out of the building and turned him over to “family members.” Also, because he was never booked, the automatic six-month drivers license suspension that follows from a subject’s refusal to submit to a breathalyzer examination did not apply to Riggins.

Not only did Craven intervene in Riggins’ arrest, he was also instrumental in getting the DUI charge against him dropped. Craven contacted an assistant solicitor in the office of S.C. thirteenth circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins and asked whether the charge could be reduced to an open container violation. On May 8, 2017, Riggins pleaded guilty to the open container charge and paid a $257.50 fine.

According to Riggins, he was told he had to plead to the open container charge to avoid the appearance that he had gotten off “scot free.”

Not only that, according to Hubbard’s letter declining to prosecute Craven the veteran SCHP leader provided responses to investigators that were “suspect, and in some instances, demonstrably false.”

Frankly, we were shocked Craven was not criminally prosecuted in connection with this scandal – and we criticized Hubbard in no uncertain terms for his decision.

“Craven’s corruption in connection with this case was clearly documented by a report from the S.C. Office of Inspector General (SCOIG), and further documented by a report from SLED,” we noted. “Accordingly, Hubbard’s contention that he did not think he could make a charge of misconduct in office or obstruction of justice against Craven is laughable.”

“This is yet another sad and sorry example of how ‘justice’ is administered in South Carolina,” we noted.

We are glad there has now been at least some measure of accountability in connection with this incident, but we will keep a close eye on this situation moving forward as we have been apprised of some curious behind-the-scenes maneuverings related to this case.

Which may be linked to some other recent behind-the-scenes maneuverings in the Upstate …

Stay tuned …



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