Former Colleton County deputy pleads guilty in federal court

Former Colleton County Sheriff's Office Lt. Fred Allen Inabinett

A former Colleton County Sheriff’s deputy pleaded guilty to tipping a friend off about a federal drug investigation.

At the federal courthouse in downtown Charleston on Tuesday, Fred Allen Inabinett pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators.

He gave two separate false statements to the F.B.I. during the course of a drug investigation in Colleton County, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Alston Badger.

Agents were investigating drug dealers in the area in August 2011. Prosecutors accuse Inabinett, a lieutenant at the Colleton County Sheriff’s Office at the time, of telling one of the drug dealers that his drug trafficking was the subject of a grand jury investigation, according to federal court documents. None of the dealers were identified in court or in documents.

“Apparently they know each other from growing up from school days,” Badger said.

A wiretap recorded the conversation between Inabinett and the dealer, according to Badger. The charges stem from the accusation that when federal agents questioned Inabinett in April, he denied the conversation.

Prosecutors said after the F.B.I. had told Inabinett about their investigation, he didn’t take long in telling his friend about it.

“(It was) within days of the agent talking to Lt. Inabinett about their proposed federal investigation,” he said.

Inabinett has since been fired from the sheriff’s office. He has not yet been sentenced but faces a maximum of five years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.