Indictment: Chesterfield County sheriff gave inmates alcohol, TV, iPad

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COLUMBIA — Chester­field County Sheriff Sam Parker let friends carry badges without training, gave away weapons to people he knew and let favored inmates have unsupervised visits with women and sleep outside jail with access to TV and alcohol, according to an indictment against the lawman.

Prosecutors laid out a story of a sheriff who skipped training and followed his own rules in the 20-page indictment released Wednesday. Parker is charged with four counts of misconduct in office and two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates. Each charge is a misdemeanor, carrying a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

But Parker’s attorney said he got tripped up in confusing regulations on what a sheriff can and cannot do. Parker did not intend to break the law and will fight the charges vigorously, defense attorney Johnny Gasser said.

“Sam Parker is not a criminal,” Gasser said.

Gasser said Parker was doing things that law enforcement has allowed rural sheriffs to do for decades. He said no one ever came to the sheriff and told him he was doing anything wrong. Instead, he said prosecutors took the case to the State Grand Jury without giving Parker a chance to change his ways or tell his side of the story.

Authorities said Parker gave special treatment to two inmates over the past five years. Michael Lee was spending 15 years behind bars for arson and William Skipper was serving seven years for drug trafficking when they came to Chesterfield County as part of a program that uses state inmates that were sent to counties for public work.

According to officials, both inmates were allowed outside the jail to sleep at the Chesterfield County armory and that they had television sets and drank alcohol. Lee also had an iPad, refrigerator and grill, according to court documents.

The indictment said inmates drove sheriff’s vehicles around the county, went to restaurants and had unsupervised visits with women. In exchange, they did chores, built a recreation building on Parker’s private property and helped the sheriff’s wife decorate for a party, prosecutors said.

The prisoners became close to Parker. They spent holidays with the sheriff and took trips to the lake with his family, the indictment also states.

The indictment also said the sheriff gave away confiscated weapons, including an M-14 semi-automatic rifle given to the sheriff’s office by the federal government. It said a friend of the sheriff with no law enforcement training got the M-14. He also gave a sniper rifle bought by the sheriff’s office and a handgun seized by deputies to other friends who were not officers, authorities said.

Parker also allowed people that he called reserve deputies to wear police uniforms and carry badges even though they did not have any training to be law officers, according to the indictment.

Parker has been in law enforcement for almost four decades. He started working for the Chesterfield and Cheraw police departments before becoming a deputy. He worked for more than 10 years as an investigator and pilot for the State Law Enforcement Division before he became Chesterfield County Sheriff in 2003. Gasser said Parker’s record until now has been spotless and it should remain spotless after a jury hears his case.

“In all his time in law enforcement, you won’t find anyone with a better reputation than Sam Parker,” Gasser said.

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GiantsAllDay 03/20/13 - 09:12 pm
"Each charge is a

"Each charge is a misdemeanor, carrying a possible sentence of up to 10 years in prison."
Anyone out there ever hear of a 10 year prison sentence for a misdemeanor? I sure haven't.
On another note, this sheriff sounds like a pretty good guy. I wouldn't mind hanging out with him every once in a while.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 03/21/13 - 04:49 am
If you haven't done this

If you haven't done this already while reading it the first time, re-read this article and be thinking of the Andy Griffith Show. The similarities are rampant! I mean, think Otis and Rafe Hollister as the guys in the jail..think of Floyd the barber and Gomer as the unofficial deputies walking around town..think of Goober toting and using one of the sheriff's rifles...think of Otis at the Taylor house, doing chores for Warden Aunt Bee!! I mean, it's almost like this place IS Mayberry!!
Aww, shucks...let the sheriff go!!

myfather15 03/21/13 - 06:52 am
I'm sick of these law

I'm sick of these law enforcement officials, committing criminal acts; then saying "I didn't know any better." You sound no different than the criminals you are supposed to police. This "Sheriff" is a pathetic excuse for a law enforcement officer.

How can you be in law enforcement for 4 decades and not know better? I've been a deputy for 16 years and I know you can't use inmates often called "Trustees" for use on PERSONAL property; yours OR a friends property, it's illegal. COMMON SENSE and the law says you can't give away property that DOES NOT belong to you. He gave away firearms that belongs to the Sheriff's OFFICE, not the Sheriff personally. This is the problem with MANY elected officials; along with winning the election; they get ENORMOUS ego's. They begin to believe THEMSELVES above everyone else, because they were elected. They begin to believe THEY ARE the Sheriff's Office, not just hold the office of the Sheriff. I also know it's illegal to provide a person in custody alcohol, drugs or other prohibited items, which are listed.

Now, as far as him allowing uncertified people to wear badges and uniforms. I don't think this is a crime. The Sheriff may swear in people to preform special details because he is an elected official. In this scenario, I don't think he violated the law as much as he brought liability upon the County. IF, one of these uncertified persons would have shot someone....class action law suit. IF, one of these uncertified, untrained persons would have violated someone rights........class action law suit. Why? Simply because they aren't trained in areas of deadly force and constitutional rights. Again, I don't think there is law against him doing this; a Sheriff can allow a civilian (Not inmate) to drive the cars but it's VERY dangerous because of liability.

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