Honea Path Police Department. SLED.
Crime & Courts

Upstate Police Chief Reports Missing Evidence To SLED

“Anyone with access to the evidence room has been questioned,” said Honea Path Police Chief Chris Miller.

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The newly appointed chief of the Honea Path Police Department (HPPD) tells FITSNews that upwards of four individuals have been questioned in connection with alleged financial crimes.

On Wednesday, May 17, 2023, law enforcement veteran Chris Miller became HPPD’s permanent chief of police following the transient leadership of Barry New — which itself was preceded by the abrupt resignations of Shawn Boseman in 2022 and David King in 2019.

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“A LOT OF MISSING CASH …”

Honea Path. SLED.
Honea Path Police Chief Chris Miller during Memorial Day 2023.
(Honea Path Police Department)

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Since his appointment by mayor Christopher Burton, Miller has replaced all but two HPPD officers following an exhaustive inspection of his department — which enforces the laws of a small town straddling Anderson and Abbeville County, South Carolina.

“I’m a big stickler for documentation,” said Miller during an interview with FITSNews. “When I got here, I knew there was no record-keeping. The evidence [HPPD] had was not being tracked or stored correctly … that included confiscated money.”

Come Saturday, June 3, 2023, the careered homicide investigator of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) reported his discovery of alleged financial crimes within HPPD to agents of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).

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Dot Evans. Honea Path.

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Of interest? Miller purports that his department lost a year’s worth of body-worn camera (“BWC”) footage, digitized incident reports and physical evidence; including but not limited to confiscated money and firearms between 2020 and 2021. 

“We’ve got a lot of missing cash,” continued Miller. “Confiscated money should be deposited into an interest-bearing checking account until someone’s case is adjudicated or dismissed. Turns out, some people weren’t getting their money back.”

According to Miller, at least $10,200 in forfeitures were never deposited into a First Citizens Bank account under Boseman’s leadership. He furthermore purported that HPPD switched to Upstate Federal Credit Union prior to his appointment.

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“THE BEGINNING STAGES …”

Honea Path. SLED.
“No more of the ghost markings,” wrote Honea Path Police Chief Chris Miller to Facebook on August 28, 2023.
(Honea Path Police Department)

“So, you can see my concern,” Miller stated amid SLED’s ongoing investigation. “Even if it’s five dollars, it doesn’t belong to a police officer. It belongs to whoever the owner is … it doesn’t matter if it’s ten thousand dollars or ten million dollars. It belongs to the owner.”

The Town of Honea Path has since reimbursed a constituent $3,714 after Miller confirmed that over $3,000 and a Galaxy S20 phone were seized — and supposedly uncatalogued — by HPPD officers following an arrest on October 2, 2020. 

A secondary individual has since reported to Miller that $6,500 was seized during an ambiguously documented traffic stop resulting in their arrest and pending charge for possession of marijuana on November 22, 2022.

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“We’re still in the beginning stages of really digging into this,” continued Miller. “This is not going to be cleared up overnight … and it’s very possible that we’re going to find even more information and turn it over to SLED.”

As for the nonexistent incident reports? Previous employees purport that HPPD’s data management software, Southern Software, Inc., suffered an indefinite data breach simultaneous with the uncatalogued money — between 2020 and 2021.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” stated Miller. “So, I called our IT people and asked if there were any records of a work order being put in for someone to come take a look at our server since they keep a record of that … nothing was ever reported.”

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“THERE’S NOTHING WORSE …”

In response to the aforementioned anomalies, Miller upgraded the department’s BWC system from WatchGuard to Axon in mid-February and furthermore employed an Anderson County Sheriff’s Office (ACSO) narcotics investigator to manage HPPD’s seizures and forfeitures. 

Miller furthermore reported the hiring of a “computer savvy” West Union Police Department (WUPD) officer who — in addition to his daily duties within HPPD — will facilitate the department in recovering otherwise nonexistent data.

SLED has since confirmed their investigation into “potential financial crimes” within HPPD, according to department spokeswoman Renée Wunderlich in a statement provided to FITSNews last month. 

“I gave SLED a list of fourteen former employees,” concluded Miller. “If officers are responsible for this, I don’t know what I could possibly say to convince them to come forward … I take illegal activity very seriously, especially when law enforcement is involved.”

Miller is urging anyone with adjudicated or dismissed cases involving withheld forfeitures to call or text his personal phone number: 864-318-1883

This story may be updated …

UPDATE | During the weekend of March 6, 2024, approximately $6,500 was located in HPPD’s evidence room — as opposed to being deposited into First Citizens Bank upon it’s seizure in November 2022, according to Miller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Andrew Fancher (Travis Bell)

Andrew Fancher is a Lone Star Emmy award-winning journalist from Dallas, Texas. Cut from a bloodline of outlaws and lawmen alike, he was the first of his family to graduate college which was accomplished with honors. Got a story idea or news tip for Andy? Email him directly and connect with him socially across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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4 comments

Jeff Mattox Top fan May 16, 2024 at 2:55 pm

Truth be known evidence goes missing from every popo department. People think there is magic in the badge that makes the popo honest and trustworthy but nothing could be further from the truth. Armed with this misplaced trust and a monopoly on force as well as the fact popo always investigated themselves it should not surprise anyone they lie and steal.

Reply
Tara June 5, 2024 at 1:57 am

You said a mouthful there! And all the truth!

Reply
AC Top fan May 16, 2024 at 7:07 pm

Maybe Miller needs to brush up on forfeited funds laws. The governing body ie Town Council is supposed to maintain two accounts for seized funds. An interest bearing account for non adjudicated monies and a separate account for money that has been cleared though the court. The police chief should not and cannot have control over the either account and must request funds from the cleared account through the council. He best be careful and maybe the town should hire a competent attorney

Reply
Tara Ware June 5, 2024 at 1:58 am

Yes!!!!

Reply

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