Indicted Saluda County sheriff resigns

AIKEN -- Gov. Nikki Haley is prepared to appoint a new sheriff for Saluda County after Sheriff Jason Booth was indicted Thursday and resigned.

Prosecutor Strom Thurmond Jr. said a state grand jury indicted Booth on one charge of misconduct in office. Booth is charged with using an inmate to work on his private property.

Booth sent a letter to Haley resigning his post, effective immediately. He could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

“It’s an unfortunate situation, and we plan to announce an interim sheriff tomorrow,” Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said.

Godfrey said the sheriff sent a letter Thursday morning to Haley asking that the chief deputy be appointed to fill the post.

Booth didn’t return a phone call from the Associated Press for comment.

Booth didn’t immediately return a phone call.

The indictment alleges that Booth used the services of an inmate on loan to Saluda County from the state Department of Corrections.

The inmate was used “to assist in building, constructing, and working on Sheriff Booth’s private property in Saluda County,” the statement said. It said the activity occurred between Jan. 1, 2006, and Oct. 28, 2011.

“The use of this inmate for Sheriff Booth’s personal gain breached his duties to the public of good faith, honesty, and accountability,” the statement said.

Thurmond said the State Law Enforcement Division investigated the case. The prosecutor said the case has been forwarded to Haley’s office for the purpose of removing Booth from office and appointing an interim sheriff.

In his letter to the governor, Booth asked the Chief Deputy W. R. Freeman be appointed to fill his post.

He said Freeman has been employed in the Saluda County Sheriff’s office for 15 years.

Booth said Freeman would be able to serve until a newly elected sheriff could take over in January 2013.

 

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