State Grand Jury Issues Indictments Alleging Public Corruption by suspended Colleton County Sheriff Robert Strickland, Jr.

(COLUMBIA, SC) – Feb. 18, 2020 – South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today the unsealing of a thirteen count indictment and a two count indictment by South Carolina State Grand Jury regarding allegations of public corruption in the office of suspended Colleton County Sheriff Robert A. Strickland, Jr. Sheriff Strickland, 40, had previously been suspended from office by Order of Governor McMaster, following Strickland’s indictment on November 21, 2019 by the Colleton County Grand Jury for Domestic Violence 2nd Degree.

On February 13, 2020, the State Grand Jury issued indictments of Sheriff Strickland for the following offenses:

1. 2020-GS-47-02 (Horry County)
Count 1: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 2: Distribution of a Schedule IV Controlled Substance, § 44-53-370(b)(3): 0-3 years and/or $0-$3,000

2. 2020-GS-47-03 (Colleton County)
Count 1: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 2: Use of Official Position for Financial Gain Ethics Act Violation, § 8-13-700: 0-1 year and/or $0-$5,000
Count 3: Embezzlement, § 16-13-210: 0-5 years and a fine in the discretion of the court
Count 4: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 5: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 6: Use of Official Position for Financial Gain Ethics Act Violation, § 8-13-700: 0-1 year and/or $0-$5,000
Count 7: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 8: Embezzlement, § 16-13-210: 0-5 years and a fine in the discretion of the court
Count 9: Use of Public Funds, Property, or Time to Influence Election: Ethics Act Violation, § 8-13-1346: 0-1 year and/or a fine in the discretion of the court
Count 10: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 11: Embezzlement, § 16-13-210: 0-5 years and a fine in the discretion of the court
Count 12: Misconduct in Office, Common Law: 0-10 years
Count 13: Distribution of a Schedule II Controlled Substance, § 44-53-370(b)(2): 0-5 years and/or $0-$5,000

The indictments generally allege that Sheriff Strickland: (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.

The case was investigated by the South Carolina State Grand Jury, which functions with the assistance of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division and the South Carolina Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division. The cases will be prosecuted by State Grand Jury Division Chief Attorney S. Creighton Waters, Senior Assistant Attorney General Brian Petrano, Assistant Attorney General David Fernandez, and Assistant Attorney General Johnny Ellis James, Jr. and the 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

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

At a bond hearing Tuesday afternoon in Richland County, Judge DeAndrea Benjamin gave Strickland a $25,000 surety bond and ordered that he wear a GPS monitor. His lawyer can petition to have that removed after 90 days. She also ordered that he have no contact with any witnesses or Sheriff’s Office employees, he must surrender all his firearms and his passport, and he cannot leave the state.

You can read those indictments here and here.

 

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