Former Union County Sheriff Howard Wells and four other men in Union County have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges ranging from public corruption to drug distribution.
Wells is charged with lying to federal investigators and witness tampering. US Attorney Walt Wilkins says the indictment is the result of a corruption probe that sent former Union Mayor Bruce Morgan and former Union Building and Zoning director Jeffrey Lawson to federal prison.
Wilkins says the charges against Wells are not directly connected to those against the other men.
If convicted, Wells faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in federal prison and a $750,000 fine. Wells is accused of making sizable loans to a person and receiving significant interest as a result.The indictment accuses Wells of making false statements to FBI agents this past March concerning his involvement in concealing his receipt of taxable interest income. The indictment also charges that in April Wells engaged in witness tampering by corruptly persuading someone identified as “J.G.“ to mislead the federal investigation and to induce that person to “alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal an object important to the official proceeding.
Union County Supervisor Donny Betenbaugh and former Union County Tax Assessor Willie Randall, Jr., were named in a 40-count indictment. Those men are charged in the Indictment’s first 15 counts with conspiracy, extortion, soliciting and accepting bribes, money laundering, structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, and knowingly allowing the Union County Tax Assessor’s Office to be used as a “stash house” for the storage and distribution of cocaine and hydrocodone.
Betenbaugh is also charged in 25 additional counts with witness tampering, lying to federal agents, misprision of a felony, obstruction of justice, and illegally distributing Lorazepam, a schedule IV controlled substance. If convicted on all counts, Betenbaugh faces a maximum possible sentence of 618 years in federal prison and a fine of $13 million dollars.
Randall faces a maximum possible sentence of 190 years in federal prison and a fine of $5.25 million dollars.
Randall was also named in a separate indictment, along with Union County resident Lapriest Darnell Beacham. Both men are charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine.
Union County resident Willard Dee Farr was charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to commit extortion, aiding and abetting former City of Union Mayor Bruce Morgan and former City of Union Building and Zoning director Jeffrey Lawson to extort money from contractors and lying to federal investigators.
Morgan and Lawson have already pleded guilty and were sentenced to federal prison earlier this year.