State grand jury indicts Strickland in 15 counts

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South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced today the unsealing of a 13-count indictment and a two-count indictment by South Carolina State Grand Jury re-garding allegations of public corruption in the office of suspended Colleton County Sheriff Robert A. Strickland Jr.

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 second degree.

On February 13, 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 Sub-stance, § 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 Influ-ence 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 Sub-stance, § 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 business-es;”

(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 ve-hicles, 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 work-ing 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 cam-paign related activities;”

(5) caused “public funds of Colleton County to be spent on non-official lodging expenses during a law enforcement con-ference 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 ongo-ing sexual relationship with a subordinate, and did use county resources and time to further these activities;”

(7) provided “schedule IV controlled substances to a subor-dinate who did not have a valid prescription for said sub-stance, and did provide alcohol to subordinate under twen-ty-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.

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

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