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Suspended Colleton Co. sheriff faces 13 more corruption charges

A suspended South Carolina sheriff already indicted on domestic violence charges now faces 13 additional criminal charges including giving alcohol to someone under 21 and using his power to continue a sexual relationship with an employee, authorities said.
The new indictments against Colleton County Sheriff R.A. Strickland were unsealed Feb. 18.

Authorities accuse Strickland of a broad range of misconduct and corruption, ranging from using deputies to do personal work and campaign for him while on duty, giving a $3,000 radio that could access secure police and other emergency radio traffic to someone with no official purpose and using his power to hire, fire and determine salaries to coerce an employee to keep having a sexual relationship, according to the indictments.

Strickland also spent public money for expenses that were not part of his duties to go to a Myrtle Beach law enforcement conference and while he was there illegally gave prescription drugs to an employee and gave alcohol to a subordinate who was under age 21, the indictments said.

If convicted of all 13 counts, Strickland could face a maximum of nearly 100 years in prison. But none of the charges require prison time if the suspended sheriff is convicted.

Strickland was arrested in November and charged with domestic violence after state investigators said he attacked a woman in his home, punching her in the face and taking her cellphones so she could not call for help, according to an arrest warrant.

Strickland took a leave as sheriff two days after his arrest that became a suspension after his indictment on the domestic violence charge.
The domestic violence case against Strickland would not stand up in court because the woman who authorities said was attacked didn’t come to police and was contacted first instead by the State Law Enforcement Division, Strickland’s lawyer Andy Savage told WCIV-TV.

Savage did not return an email seeking comment on the latest indictments.

Ten South Carolina sheriffs have been convicted of crimes in office in the past decade. Two others — Strickland and suspended Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood — are awaiting trial.

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