Parker goes to trial April 7

Karen Kissiah

March 20, 2014

A year and three weeks after he was indicted and removed from office, former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sanford “Sam” Marion Parker Jr. will have his day in court.

His trial is set for Monday, April 7, at the Chesterfield County Courthouse, said Chesterfield County Clerk of Court Faye Sellers.

“As far as we’re concerned, it will be just another day of general sessions court,” said Sellers.

However, given the high level of publicity the case has generated, it is likely the courtroom will be crowded — at least by the media.

The allocations against Parker were cited last year as having been the result of a 10-year investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Agency. He is charged with embezzlement, four counts of misconduct in office, two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates and one count of official misconduct in office.

According to a statement from South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, the State Grand Jury indictment claims “Parker received funds on behalf of Chesterfield County and cashed or deposited them into his personal bank account for his personal use.”

Parker also stands accused of giving privileges to jail inmates in exchange for work on his personal property, giving confiscated guns to friends, using public money for personal gain and hiring deputies who were not properly trained or certified for the job.

Parker has not once spoken directly to members of the media since his arrest. But his lawyer, Johnny Gasser, told Judge Casey Manning at Parker’s bond hearing last year that “Parker never knowingly or willingly committed a crime.”

Details of the case

The following are the details of the case, according to the indictment dated March 19, 2013. Some of the allegations go back as far as 2003.

Inmate Michael Lee, serving a 15-year sentence for felony arson, was transferred to the Chesterfield County Detention Center (CCDC) on March 15, 2007, under the “Designated Facilities Program.” While housed within Chesterfield County, Lee was allowed to:

a) Live and sleep, often unsupervised, outside of the confines of the CCDC in a dormitory-like environment within the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Armory;

b) Possess keys to the armory, the entrance gate, and the Sheriff’s Office vehicles;

c) Possess items which are not permissible for inmates, including but not limited to: televisions, clothes, drugs, alcohol, a photo identification obtained from the Chesterfield County Department of Motor Vehicles, refrigerator, grill, iPad, personal computer, as well as other personal items not permissible.

d) Drive Sheriff’s Office vehicles on the roads of Chesterfield County, notwithstanding the fact that he was not licensed to drive by the state of South Carolina.

e) Have access to firearms;

f) Have unsupervised visits with at least one female visitor for sexual relations;

g) Have unlimited visitation with family and friends:

h) Dine at restaurants in South Carolina as well as North Carolina;

i) Take shopping trips in various counties throughout South Carolina and North Carolina;

j) Possess cash, credit and debit cards, and a private bank account, with on-duty sheriff’s deputies either taking him to the bank during business hours or running those errands on his behalf;

k) Have personal mail delivered to him at the sheriff’s office or armory;

l) Engage and participate in various social functions throughout Chesterfield County;

m) Host dinners and parties in the armory;

n) Use the Internet for email, Facebook and online shopping, etc.;

0) Wear personal clothing;

p) Attend church services outside of the designated facility;

q) Eat meals at the sheriff’s home with and without other law enforcement;

r) Go on recreational activities with the sheriff and his family;

s) Spend holidays with the sheriff and his family;

t) Travel in private aircraft piloted by a sheriff’s deputy to Mount Pleasant, S.C., for a family visit.

In return for these privileges, Lee, a trained engineer:

a) Refurbished the Sheriff’s Armory;

b) Worked at Sheriff Parker’s home and on his personal property;

c) Gave gifts to Sheriff Parker’s family;

d) Prepared meals for Sheriff Parker and his family;

e) Assisted Sheriff Parker and his wife with decorating and cooking for private parties.

According to the indictment, Lee remained in the custody of the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office until Aug. 17, 2012, when, at the request of Sheriff Parker, he was returned to the South Carolina Department of Corrections.

Another inmate

A second inmate, William Skipper, who was convicted of felony drug trafficking and serving a seven-year prison sentence with the South Carolina Department of Corrections, was transferred to the CCDC April 8, 2009, with the “Designated Facilities Program.” He remained in the custody of the CCDC until Feb. 1, 2012.

The indictment claims Skipper, who has worked as a licensed general contractor and HVAC repairman, was given all of the privileges Lee enjoyed in exchange for these services:

a) Designed and refurbished the sheriff’s armory;

b) Purchased, with Chesterfield County funds, HVAC equipment using his license and performed repairs throughout the county on behalf of Sheriff Parker;

c) Performed work at Sheriff Parker’s home and on his personal property;

d) Built a recreational building for Sheriff Parker at this home;

e) Assisted Sheriff Parker and his wife with decorating and entertaining for parties.

Personal use

The indictment also accuses Parker of converting public property and resources to personal use. Beginning with item 28, those allegations state:

28) Sheriff Parker was entrusted with the safekeeping and proper use of county property provided him for the purpose of carrying out his obligations to the citizens of Chesterfield County. This property includes surplus state and federal property given under strict contracts for official use only by the department. Sheriff Parker also received federal funds for the housing of federal inmates in CCDC.

29) Chesterfield County purchased an aluminum boat, motor and trailer from the S.C. Federal Property agency through the S.C. Budget and Control Board, using a Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office check for $2,200 signed by Sheriff Parker.

30) Included with the purchase was a reminder of the agreement signed with the county stating that the surplus property would be used only for official purposes.

31) The agreement also stated that the property would not be loaned, traded or torn down without permission by the South Carolina Federal Property Agency.

32) The boat was titled and registered to the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office.

33) This boat, notwithstanding its intended purpose for official use only, was instead used for recreation by Sheriff Parker and outfitted as a shrimp boat.

34) The motor was traded to Allan’s Marine in Florence for credit towards a new outboard Evinrude motor, with the balance of $6,549.55 paid by Chesterfield County and signed for by Sheriff Parker.

35) This boat was used for the private purpose of shrimping trips on the coast of South Carolina for the enjoyment of Sheriff Parker and his friends and various employees.

36) In addition to the above-referenced fishing boat, Sheriff Parker also had the use of various other county vehicles and machinery, including, but not limited to: a John Deere farm vehicle known as a “Gator,” a five-ton military truck, an enclosed trailer and a four-wheeler. All of these items were purchased with public funds for public purposes, yet Sheriff Parker converted them to his private use and he stored them at this home for his own personal benefit.

Reserve Deputies

Parker’s charges also include falsifying records to the Criminal Justice Academy. Under item 42, the indictment reads:

Sheriff Sam Parker claimed as “Reserve Deputies” persons who were allowed to patrol in Chesterfield County, yet never underwent the training or certification required by the Criminal Justice Academy and were not on record with the Academy. Further, these persons were allowed to wear sheriff’s office uniforms and badges, which improperly conveyed that they possessed the authority to enforce the law within Chesterfield County.

Guns and ammo

The indictment also lists charges of improper distribution of firearms and ammunition against Parker:

43) Consistent with the obligation of the Office of Sheriff, Sheriff Parker has been provided with, and has access to, firearms of varying types and purposes in order to assist him in the performance of the law enforcement duties of his office.

44) Additionally, Sheriff Parker has access to firearms which have been confiscated, seized, and/or forfeited during the course of this Office’s business, the disposition of which is governed by the law of South Carolina as stated in South Carolina Code Section 16-23-405.

45) Irrespective of the obligations placed on him as Sheriff and the plain language of the statute, Sheriff Parker has, on multiple occasions, provided firearms to non-law enforcement personnel for private, non-duty related reasons.

46) These firearms include, but are not limited to:

a. An M-14 semi-automatic rifle, manufactured by U.S. Rifle with serial number 1242369, provided to the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office by the U.S. Department of Justice 1033 program, which Sheriff Parker provided, with ammunition, to a friend in the community with no law enforcement training or law enforcement experience.

b. An XM-15 Bushmaster rifle, serial number L316199, purchased by the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office for use by the SRT Team, which Sheriff Parker gave to a friend in the community with no law enforcement training or experience.

c. A Remington Model 700 sniper rifle, serial number G7104998, purchased as a package by the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office for $2,209 with a Leopold scope, sling, bi-pod and a threaded barrel for use by a sniper on the SRT team, which Sheriff Parker gave, with ammunition, to a friend in the community with no law enforcement training or law enforcement experience.

d) A Browning .22 handgun bearing serial number 655AV28999 and received as a result of a seizure, which Sheriff Parker gave to a friend who worked with Chesterfield County Public Works and who had no law enforcement training or law enforcement experience.

e) A Glock model 21 .45 semi-automatic handgun bearing serial number LET580, purchased by the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office from Craig’s Firearm Supply, Inc. for $489, which was given to a Class III deputy no longer with the department as payment for his work rewiring Sheriff Parker’s house.

f) A Glock .40 pistol, unknown serial number, which Sheriff Parker provided to a local minister and Sheriff’s Office Chaplain, who had no law enforcement training or law enforcement experience.

Other allegations made in court Friday, that were not included in the indictment, claim the two inmates involved were allowed to dress up as ghosts during a Halloween Haunted Trail event giving out candy to children.

— Staff Writer Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261, or by email at