J. Waites Waring Federal Courthouse (copy) (copy)

The J. Waties Waring Judicial Center in downtown Charleston. File/Staff

The former police chief of a small South Carolina city pleaded guilty Thursday to a pair of federal charges that included theft of federal funds and making a false statement to the FBI.

Gary Blair Shaffer entered his plea in U.S. District Court in Charleston, said William C. Lewis, the assistant U.S. attorney leading the prosecution of the case.

"Shaffer, as chief of police and agent of the city of Manning did steal $80,800 from the Manning Police Department and lied to the FBI about doing so," Lewis said.

Sentencing is pending.

Shaffer was chief in Manning, in Clarendon County, until he was fired Aug. 9 for "issues unrelated" to his criminal charges, Lewis told a federal judge.

The former chief's misconduct dates back to September 2015 when officers in Manning seized $80,800 during a traffic stop, the prosecutor said.

Shaffer started making large cash deposits into ATMs one week after the seizure, Lewis said. The deposits ranged from around $500 to $5,000.

In total, the former chief deposited about $78,514 into his personal bank accounts, the prosecutor said.

"Prior to the Sept. 12, 2015, seizure, Shaffer had approximately $76 in his bank account," Lewis said.

In May 2016, the Manning Police Department got a court order to return a portion of the seized cash to the two individuals in the traffic stop, the prosecutor said.

Shaffer wrote three checks — for $1,947.10, $19,148 and $10,300 — that were tied to his personal bank accounts, and sent the checks to an attorney representing the two people involved in the 2015 traffic stop, Lewis said.

"These checks add up to the exact amount ordered by the court ... to be returned," the prosecutor said.

In December 2016, an FBI agent interviewed Shaffer and asked about the cash ATM deposits, Lewis said. The then-police chief said his brother game him the money.

Shaffer's brother, in a separate interview with agents, said he didn't give any money to Shaffer, according to the prosecutor.

During a follow up interview with the FBI, Shaffer changed his story and said the cash came from money he had been saving for years "from various sources," Lewis said.

In addition to the $31,395.10 that Shaffer repaid via personal checks in 2016, the former chief also paid $10,900 in restitution during his plea hearing on Thursday, the prosecutor said.

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Reach Gregory Yee at 843-937-5908. Follow him on Twitter @GregoryYYee.

Gregory Yee covers breaking news and public safety. He's a native Angeleno and previously covered crime and courts for the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, CA. He studied journalism and Spanish literature at the University of California, Irvine.

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