South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford has suspended the Union County Supervisor charged with multiple crimes, Sanford issued an executive order Wednesday suspending Donald Betenbaugh from his official duties. That will stand until Betenbaugh is acquitted or convicted.
The US Attorney’s office announced the first of the week that Betenbaugh and former Union County Tax Assessor Willie Randall, Jr., were named in a 40-count indictment, charged 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, a precription drug.
As News Director at WBCU Radio in Union, Steven Ramsey has been talking with people who work in and around county government to get their reaction. This is what he has heard.
“They say they know it could happen anywhere, in any city,” said Ramsey. “But we still haven’t recovered from the scandal where the Mayor and zoning official for the City of Union. And to have some corruption which is this widespread surface again, it’s beyond the belief of most people.”
US Attorney Walt Wilkins says the current indictments are the result of a coruption probe that sent former Union Mayor Bruce Morgan and former Union Building and Zoning director Jeffrey Lawson to federal prison.
Sanford’s office is considering appointing a replacement for Betenbaugh.
In an unconnected case announced at the same time by federal prosecutors, former Union County Sheriff Howard Wells is charged with lying to federal investigators and witness tampering.
Ramsey says a wave of shock swept through the county courthouse. “Employees who knew the former sheriff and supervisor for many years say it’s unbelieveable, almost like a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde situation. And they wonder how they could be both.”