A former police chief in Westminster has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling thousands of dollars that prosecutors say was supposed to be used to buy protective vests for officers.
46-year-old Johnny Scott Bannister pleaded guilty Monday to embezzlement and misconduct in office, according to the Tenth Circuit Solicitor’s Office. A circuit judge ordered the former chief to pay nearly $114,000 in restitution. He had been police chief in Westminster for 11 years until his resignation in July 2012. Bannister was arrested in March 2013 by the State Law Enforcement Division, seven months after the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office said it noted discrepancies in the town’s funds. Incoming sheriff Mike Crenshaw had been the town’s acting police chief after Bannister’s resignation.
Bannister was accused of stealing more than $100,000 in town funds between January 2009 and July 2012. He was also accused of forging a check in someone else’s name for $1,400.
The former chief apologized in court Monday. His defense attorney Druanne White said her client could not explain his actions.
Prosecutors said the sentence was appropriate. “Scott Bannister betrayed the public trust. His actions were not only criminal but a direct contradiction to the responsibility he had to keep the citizens and taxpayers of Westminster safe from crime,” Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams said in a statement. “I hope that (Monday’s) sentence, which is consistent with that of similar cases in past, will allow the people of Westminster to begin repairing their trust in the police department and know that my office will prosecute anyone who violates the law regardless of their position.”