CHESTERFIELD, S.C. -- The former sheriff of Chesterfield County has been found guilty after prosecutors accused him of giving away guns from his department without filing proper paperwork and allowing untrained people to act as deputies.
The jury in the trial of Sam Parker returned its verdict Thursday. He was found guilty of five counts of misconduct in office, two counts of giving contraband to inmates and one count of embezzlement.
An investigation into Parker began when an inmate he had helped to see his sick mother became mad after the sheriff punished him for a violation and went to authorities. The prisoner, who was serving 15 years for arson and was sent to Chesterfield County to help with tasks like fixing cars and maintaining county property, told investigators he was allowed to drink alcohol, sleep outside the jail, use an iPad and have unsupervised visits with women, according to the indictment against Parker.
According to prosecutors, Parker gave away confiscated weapons, including an M-14 semi-automatic rifle, to friends who were not deputies.
Parker's lawyer argued their client's actions weren't criminal and that he was being singled out by overzealous prosecutors.
Parker was Chesterfield County sheriff from 2003 until he was indicted in March 2013. He is one of seven sheriffs of South Carolina's 46 counties to face charges or criminal investigations in the past four years. Although most of the other sheriffs pleaded guilty and disappeared from the public glare, Parker fought the charges filed against him.