INDICTED (COMPLETE STORY)
Charles Goodwin faces misconduct in office charges
Tuesday, January 15, 2013 9:36 AM
Charles Goodwin's 24-year career as Abbeville County's sheriff is finished.
Goodwin, who resigned Monday night, was indicted by a state grand jury Tuesday and charged with misconduct in office. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced the indictment in an email.
The offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
According to the email from the attorney general's office, "The indictment alleges Goodwin demanded and received cash 'kickbacks' from county funds paid to a local auto body repair shop from on or about January 1998 until November 2011, and used the services of a South Carolina Department of Corrections inmate to work on personal vehicles and property belonging to Goodwin and his family."The case will be prosecuted by the attorney general's office.
A hearing is scheduled for noon Friday in the Greenville County General Sessions Court at the Greenville County Courthouse.
It was unclear whether Goodwin was arrested or where he would be booked on the charge. A spokesman from the attorney general's office Tuesday indicated Goodwin is expected to turn himself in at Friday's proceedings.
Rob Godfrey, a spokesman for the Governor's Office, confirmed Goodwin sent notice to Gov. Nikki Haley on Monday issuing his resignation. Chad Jenkins, Goodwin's attorney, and ACSO chief deputy Marion Johnson also confirmed the former sheriff stepped down.
Goodwin did not return calls seeking comment Tuesday. Jenkins said neither he nor Goodwin had an official statement concerning the indictment.
"We're going to allow the judicial system to run its course, and we're cooperating," he said.
Abbeville County Coroner Ronnie Ashley was sworn in as the acting sheriff and will take the post heading up the ACSO until Haley appoints an interim leader. The interim sheriff will serve atop the department until a special election, Godfrey said.
County clerk of court Emily McMahan gave Ashley his oath of office just after 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Abbeville County law enforcement center. Sam Ferguson, the county's chief deputy coroner, was sworn in as coroner while Ashley serves as sheriff.
Ashley said Johnson will continue to run the day-to-day operations for the department until the governor makes her interim appointment. Godfrey said there was no timetable on when that selection would come.
Johnson initially believed he was acting sheriff in the immediate wake of Goodwin's resignation.
"I assumed the duties of sheriff," he said Tuesday afternoon. "By being next in command, by statute, I assumed those responsibilities until the governor's office (names an interim sheriff)."
But South Carolina code of laws precluded Johnson, Goodwin's longtime second-in-command, from assuming the role of acting sheriff, because the vacancy came as a result of an indictment. The statute stipulates the county coroner assumes the role of acting sheriff in those instances.
Goodwin served six terms as Abbeville County's top lawman, initially elected to the seat in 1988. He was re-elected to his seventh term in November, garnering 47 percent of the electorate to eclipse his two opponents in the race. Goodwin's seventh term began when he was sworn in Jan. 4.
Last summer, however, Goodwin fell from grace and came under public scrutiny when a videotape surfaced showing him engaged in sex acts with a female ACSO deputy on county property. An Abbeville County woman bought forth the tape, which was originally filmed in May 2001, during a called council meeting in June.
Six weeks later, the County Council unanimously voted to ask the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to conduct a full investigation into Goodwin and the sheriff's office.
Goodwin publicly apologized for the controversy and said his family had forgiven him. The sex scandal was not mentioned in the indictment documents.
Rumors continued to dog the beleaguered sheriff even after his victorious campaign. Just days after his re-election, word spread Goodwin was indicted by a federal grand jury, provoking several media outlets to camp out at the law enforcement center in Abbeville. Goodwin, however, remained adamant he was not contacted by any investigating agencies.
"There is absolutely no truth to any of those allegations," he said during a short phone conversation when contacted by the Index-Journal in November.
Despite the signs, Tuesday's indictment came as a surprise. But the former sheriff was still remembered with fondness by those who he led.
"I worked almost 30 years with Sheriff Goodwin," Johnson said. "I worked with the police department with him, and I've been with him ever since he was elected. It doesn't change that he's a friend. I'm shocked about what happened."
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