Chesterfield County Sheriff Sanford “Sam” Parker, Jr., denies intentionally violating the law as he faces six charges of misconduct and providing contraband to prisoners.
Parker, who ran for sheriff as a Democrat, was released on $150,000 bond Friday, two days after being suspended from office over the charges.
The accusations most notably deal with two prison inmates who received special privileges such as alcohol, drugs, shopping trips, and a place to stay outside prison after they performed work on Parker’s personal property. He was arraigned on the charges Friday.
After the hearing, his attorney Johnny Gasser told South Carolina Radio Network that Parker admitted making mistakes, but said that two deputies underneath Parker were the ones handling the inmates. Gasser said Parker misunderstood the state’s policy towards treatment of prisoners who are involved in public works projects.
“There’s no question that Sam Parker violated certain policies and procedures,” Gasser said after the hearing, “They were policies and procedures that he was, quite frankly, unaware existed. But… Sam Parker did not willfully and knowingly do anything dishonest.”
AUDIO:Listen to SC Radio Network’s interview with Gasser (4:14)
Gasser said Parker was not responsible for furnishing the “contraband” the inmates received. “He was the chief executive officer of an agency. He has no idea… where there are several levels of supervision between him and these two deputies on a daily basis, what they were doing and what they were providing these two inmates.”
Both of the South Carolina Department of Corrections inmates, Michael Lee and William Skipper, were handled by Chesterfield County law enforcement under a program that allows the county to use those inmates for public works projects
Prosecutors said Friday that Department of Corrections officials had warned Parker several times that his actions were illegal. But the sheriff “continued along the same path,” South Carolina Assistant Deputy Attorney General Heather Savitz Weiss told the court.
Chesterfield County Coroner Kip Kiser is acting as temporary sheriff until Parker’s case is complete. Parker is not allowed to have any contact with the sheriff’s office as a condition of his bond.