Already suspended from office following his indictment on a domestic violence charge three months ago, Colleton county, South Carolina sheriff R.A. Strickland has now been indicted by a statewide grand jury on multiple public corruption charges.
According to indictments unsealed on Tuesday, Strickland is facing fifteen counts related to charges in Horry county and Colleton county – the latter a locale where he has served as elected sheriff since 2012.
The two-count indictment involving Horry county alleged one count of common law misconduct in office and one count of distribution of a schedule IV controlled substance. Meanwhile, the thirteen-count indictment in Colleton alleged six counts of common law misconduct in office, three counts of embezzlement, two counts of using his office for financial gain, one count of using public funds to influence the outcome of an election and one count of distribution of a schedule II controlled substance.
Strickland is facing decades behind bars as a result of the charges, which stem from a host of alleged indiscretions.
A bond hearing for the 40-year-old law enforcement officer will be held at 3:00 p.m. EST at the Richland county, S.C. court house before S.C. circuit court judge DeAndrea Benjamin. The hearing will be held in Richland county as its courts hear cases involving the statewide grand jury, which is based in the state capital of Columbia, S.C.
According to a news release from the office of S.C. attorney general Alan Wilson, the indictments against Strickland “generally allege” as follows …
(1) had “subordinate deputies and sheriff’s office staff spend time during their regular workdays while on duty and being paid by the county, doing work for and improvements to STRICKLAND’s home, land, and other properties or businesses”;
(2) “gave a governmental radio unit, worth approximately $3000, and which had access to secure first responder communication channels, to a citizen, with no valid official purpose for providing this county property to the citizen”;
(3) “used county property, including but not limited to vehicles, an off-road vehicle, and tools, for his personal benefit and for personal work on his properties and businesses”;
(4) “had subordinate deputies and sheriff’s office staff working on his political campaign during their regular workdays, while they were on duty and being paid by the county, and did cause governmental resources to be used for his campaign related activities”;
(5) caused “public funds of Colleton County to be spent on non-official lodging expenses during a law enforcement conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina”;
(6) “his supervisory power over the employment and wages of sheriff’s office staff to coerce the continuation of an ongoing sexual relationship with a subordinate, and did use county resources and time to further these activities”;
(7) provided “schedule IV controlled substances to a subordinate who did not have a valid prescription for said substance, and did provide alcohol to subordinate under twenty-one (21) years of age”; and
(8) illegally distributed the prescription drugs Ambien and Adderall.
Wilson’s office noted that the case was investigated by the statewide grand jury, which operations with assistance from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and the grand jury division of the attorney general’s office.
The case against Strickland will be prosecuted by grand jury division chief Creighton Waters, senior assistant attorney general Brian Petrano, assistant attorney general David Fernandez and assistant attorney general Johnny Ellis James Jr.
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Strickland is presumed innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter a plea in connection with any of the charges filed against him.
S.C. governor Henry McMaster suspended Strickland from office back in November after the latter’s formal indictment on the domestic violence charge – which is still pending against him. The governor chose SLED lieutenant Charles Lytie Ghent, 42, of Edisto Beach, S.C. to serve as interim sheriff pending the disposition of the charges against Strickland.
McMaster has had to make multiple interim appointments due to a rash of bad behavior from local law enforcement leaders – which we are told is unlikely to clear up anytime soon.
This news outlet has previously reported on Strickland’s issues – and hinted that an investigation into various improprieties was underway. In fact, last fall we noted that the alleged victim in the sheriff’s domestic violence case was also “named in connection with an investigation into Strickland’s rumored misuse of taxpayer funds.”
We also noted that Strickland “may have used tax dollars to further an extramarital affair,” an allegation which was specifically referenced in one of the indictments handed down against him this week.
As we have previously said, Strickland has been putting on a clinic of bad decision-making in recent years. In addition to the issues outlined above, he has threatened subordinates politically and engaged in petty turf wars with other law enforcement agencies.
Strickland, a Democrat, is married with two children. After his election in 2012, he was reelected in 2016 and was facing several challengers in his bid for a third term.
WEB EXTRA: THE INDICTMENTS02-13-2020-Filed-Indictment-2020-GS-47-02-02209345xD2C78
(Via: S.C. Attorney General’s Office)