Trial starts Monday for former Chesterfield County Sheriff - WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Trial starts Monday for former Chesterfield County Sheriff

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CHESTERFEILD -

The trial of former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker on misconduct in office charges is set to begin Monday.

Parker who is charged with four counts of misconduct in office and two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates. Each charge carries a possible sentence up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Parker let friends carry badges without training, gave away weapons to people he knew, and let inmates have unsupervised visits with women and sleep outside jail with access to TV and alcohol.

Parker's attorney says his client did not witness or take part in any of the alleged crimes.

Parker took office as Sheriff in 2003.  In March of 2013, Governor Nikki Haley suspended Parker, pending the outcome of the Attorney General investigation.

Part of the investigation involves inmate Michael Lee, convicted of felony arson and sentenced to a 15 year prison term. On March 15, 2007, Lee was transferred to the Chesterfield County Detention Center under the "Designated Facilities Program" and placed in the custody of the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office.

The indictments allege that Lee was allowed to live and sleep, often unsupervised, outside of the confines of the CCSO and within a dormitory-like environment at the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Armory.

The indictments also allege that Lee had keys to the armory, the entrance gate and Sheriff's Office vehicles and that he was able to posses non-permissible items such as televisions, clothes, drugs, alcohol, a photo ID obtained from the Chesterfield DMV, a refrigerator, grill, and an iPad.

The indictments also allege that Lee had unlimited visitations with family and friends, at least one female visitor for the purpose of sexual relations, was able to dine out at restaurants, took shopping trips, had cash, credit and debit cards and a private bank account and allege that on-duty Sheriff's deputies either took him to the bank during business hours or ran errands on his behalf.

The indictments allege that in return for this special treatment, Lee who is a trained engineer, refurbished the Sheriff's Armory, worked at Sheriff Parker's home and assisted Parker and his wife with decorating and cooking for private parties.

Lee remained in custody at the CCSO until August 17, 2012 when, at the request of Parker, he was returned to the SC Department of Corrections.

The indictments also detail interactions with inmate William Skipper, who was convicted of felony drug trafficking and given a seven year sentence.

The AG's Office alleges that Skipper also went unsupervised for a portion of time, had access to the armory, even drove Sheriff's Office vehicles and had access to firearms.

The indictments allege that Skipper also had unsupervised visits, was able to dine out and go on shopping trips, and enjoyed some of the same privileges as inmate Lee, such as sharing meals and holiday time with Parker and his family.

The counts allege that in return for his treatment, Skipper, who was a licensed General Contractor and HVAC repairman, designed and refurbished the Sheriff's Armory, purchased HVAC equipment (with Chesterfield County funds) and performed repairs throughout the County on behalf of Sheriff Parker.

The indictments also allege Skipper performed work at Sheriff Parker's home and on his property, built a recreational building for Parker at his home and even made trips around the state and in North Carolina, as did Inmate Lee.

The charges against Parker also involve property that the AG's Office alleges was misused, including an aluminum boat, motor and trailer that was purchased from the South Carolina Federal Property Agency by the Sheriff's Office for $2,200.

During an interview in March of 2013, an attorney representing Parker told News13 the allegations are baseless and Parker's innocence will be proven in a court of law.

"We deny all of the allegations, Parker is an innocent man, these allegation are based on lies and/or misleading statements, or misapplication of the law, and we look forward to proving his innocence in an objective court," Johnny Gasser said.   "He has served SC for 40 years risking his life multiple times and the way he is being treated is a travesty and when the truth comes out, the state will be outraged."

The case will be prosecuted by the Attorney General's Office.

Attorney General Wilson stressed all defendants are presumed innocent unless and until they are proven guilty in a court of law.

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