Former Colleton County, South Carolina sheriff R.A. “Andy” Strickland pleaded guilty to multiple charges on Friday.
Strickland pled guilty to the following charges: misconduct in office, assault and battery in the third degree, and breach of trust with fraudulent intent, WCBD first reported.
He was also sentenced to one day in prison for the assault and battery charge, but Dennis gave him credit for time served when he was previously arrested.
S.C. governor Henry McMaster suspended Strickland from office back in November when he was initially arrested for the domestic violence charge.
On Friday, Strickland also agreed to resign from his position as Colleton County Sheriff and “permanently relinquish his law enforcement credentials.”
As a part of his probation, he must perform 200 hours of public service. Strickland must be subject to random drug and alcohol testing for the next five years.
“The people in your community had the right to expect more from you,” Dennis told Strickland Friday, saying the sheriff should be held to a higher standard of accountability.
Strickland faced a total of 15 counts related to charges in Horry County and Colleton County – where he has served as elected sheriff since 2012.
Months ago, Strickland, 40, was hit with two separate indictments, one from each county.
The two-count indictment in Horry county alleged one count of common law misconduct in office and one count of distribution of a schedule IV controlled substance.
The thirteen-count indictment in Colleton county 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.
In court, Strickland apologized to the people of Colleton County and his family for letting them down. He said he wants to turn his life around.
“I thought my life was over this last year, but it’s just beginning,” Strickland said.
According to a previous 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.
“For the felony Breach of Trust indictment, Strickland admitted that while he was Sheriff, he had deputies and staff performing services for him, his businesses, and on his property for his personal benefit during their work hours.” Wilson’s office said in a news release. “Strickland conceded he used county property and resources for his personal benefit and for personal work on his properties, businesses, and for personal concerns. Strickland admitted he breached the public trust to ensure that Colleton County resources were used for official purposes only, and not for his personal interests. Strickland also admitted to using his control over county time, property, and resources to facilitate and continue an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate county employee.”
Strickland also admitted to physically attacking his girlfriend last year after ” he found a text message on the victim’s cell phone that he wrongly believed was evidence of the victim’s infidelity,” the news release said.
Wilson’s office previously 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.
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. prosecuted the case against Strickland.
Strickland is one of many South Carolina sheriffs who have recently run into trouble with the law. Earlier this year, former Florence County Sheriff Kenney Boone pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and law misconduct in office. He was also sentenced to probation, but later sent to prison after violating his probation.
This story will be updated…
-Will Folks contributed to this report.
WANNA SOUND OFF?
Got something you’d like to say in response to one of our stories? We have an open microphone policy! Submit your own letter to the editor (or guest column) via-email HERE. Got a tip for a story? CLICK HERE. Got a technical question or a glitch to report? CLICK HERE. Want to help support what we’re doing? SUBSCRIBE HERE.