Colleton County sheriffs lieutenant under federal indictment
A Colleton County sheriff’s lieutenant is accused of tipping off a suspected drug dealer that he was being tailed by cops.
The cops turned out to be FBI agents.
Lt. Fred Allen Inabinett was arrested Friday and charged with obstruction of justice and lying on affidavits. He was indicted by a federal grand jury.
In September, a U.S. district judge gave the FBI permission to intercept cellphone calls made by a suspected drug dealer known as “E.S.” as part of an investigation into narcotics trafficking in the county.
Agents were listening in on the suspect’s calls in November when he phoned Inabinett for information about a car that was following him, according to the indictment. Inside the car were federal agents.
E.S. gave Inabinett the license plate number of the vehicle and the lieutenant ran a computer check, the indictment states. The tag came back as “not on file,” which meant it was a law enforcement vehicle. Inabinett then reported his findings to the accused dealer, the indictment states.
Agents met with Inabinett in January to discuss their ongoing investigation of E.S. and the incident in which the suspect picked up on the agents tailing him.
Inabinett told the agents that E.S. had contacted him about the vehicle but said he did not tell the suspect that it belonged to law enforcement, the indictment stated. During a previous meeting, Inabinett acknowledged knowing that E.S. sold illegal drugs in Colleton County, agents said.
The FBI met with Inabinett again following the arrest of E.S. in April. Inabinett again insisted he did not tell the man who was following him.
Inabinett was a rising star in the rural department and was the lead investigator on several homicide cases.
Inabinett, reached by phone Monday, referred questions to Sheriff George Malone. He has not hired an attorney, he said.
“I have (read the indictment), but I can’t speak on it,” he said.
Malone and other Colleton County sheriff’s officials were not available for comment Monday.