COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- Gov. Nikki Haley has suspended Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker from office following his indictment on misconduct charges.
Gubernatorial spokesman Rob Godfrey said Wednesday that Haley signed an order removing Parker after the State Grand Jury handed up the charges.
(Click here to read the indictment)
Prosecutors say Parker used state inmates to work on his home and personal property and allowed the two inmates to live outside jail, go shopping, have unsupervised visits with women, drink alcohol, drive Sheriff's Office vehicles and eat at restaurants. In exchange, the indictment alleges, the men did work on Parker's home and helped him and his wife decorate for parties.
One of the inmates was serving seven years for drug trafficking, the other was sentenced to 15 years for arson.
The indictment also alleges the Sheriff used the county boat as his "personal shrimp boat", taking it to the coast for fishing trips. Falsified records are among the accusations in the document, stating Parker had "reserve deputies" who were never given the proper/mandated training, and says Parker gave confiscated weapons to friends of his who were not in law enforcement.
He 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.
Defense lawyer Johnny Gasser says Parker got tripped up with confusing regulations and did not intend to break any laws. He says Parker will fight the charges.
Coroner Kip Kiser becomes the acting sheriff.
A longtime employee of the Sheriff's Department, who's now retired, tells NBC Charlotte he doesn't believe the allegations against Parker. He says he never saw anything like that happen.