CHESTERFIELD, S.C. Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker was suspended from office Wednesday by Gov. Nikki Haley, one day after Parker was indicted on misconduct charges.
Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for Haley, said the governor ordered the suspension because of the state grand jury’s indictments.
Chesterfield County Coroner Kip Kiser will serve as acting sheriff.
Parker, a law enforcement officer for more than 35 years, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to fight the charges.
The indictments allege that Parker used inmates to work on his home and personal property. In return, according to the indictments, Parker allowed inmates liberties such as shopping trips, the ability to sleep overnight outside the jail, and trips to eat at restaurants.
In the indictment, prosecutors allege that the Chesterfield County sheriff showed preferential treatment to two inmates, Michael Lee and William Skipper. He also is accused of arranging for Lee and Skipper to perform work at his house, including heating and air-conditioning repairs and cooking.
Lee is serving a 15-year sentence for arson. The indictment alleges that he was permitted access to firearms, was allowed to have unsupervised visits with a woman, was permitted to take shopping trips in the Carolinas, and drove Sheriff’s Office vehicles despite not having a valid driver’s license in South Carolina.
Lee is a trained engineer, according to the indictment.
Skipper is serving a seven-year sentence for drug trafficking. According to the indictment, he is a licensed general contractor and HVAC repairman, and he allegedly performed work at Parker’s house.
In return, according to papers filed in the case, Skipper was allowed to take shopping trips in the Carolinas, spend holidays with his family, and take trips to an unspecified lake with Parker and his family.
Parker faces 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, according to the S.C. Attorney General’s office.
Parker worked as an officer for the Chesterfield and Cheraw police departments in the 1970s, then went to work for the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office before being hired by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as a special agent and a pilot in the Pee Dee region.