Suspended Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis faces 13 new indictments

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GREENVILLE COUNTY, SC (WSPA) – Suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis was indicted Tuesday on 13 news charges.

According to court documents, Lewis’ indictments includes obstruction of justice and six counts each of misconduct of a public officer and misconduct in office.

The indictment says that Lewis committed the crime of misconduct in office on or about Jan. 3, 2017 through April 17, 2018.

The six misconduct of a public officer charges according to the indictment allege that Lewis:

  • Misused public resources and abused the power and authority of his office for the corrupt purpose or facilitating an adulterous relationship
  • Committed an act of fraud in violation of State law by falsely asserting to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy that he had background investigation completed on Derrick L. Pendergrass
  • Engaged in official misconduct by disposing of seized assets in violation of law
  • Committed official misconduct and fraud by equipping an unqualified employee with a badge in violation of State law
  • Abused the power and authority of his office to oppress and intimidate his employees
  • Committed official misconduct and engaged in corruption by using the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Greenville Sheriff’s Department to advance or oppress the careers of deputy sheriffs according to his personal bias rather than their professional performance

The six misconduct in office charges according to the indictment allege that Lewis:

  • Willfully misused public resources and abused the power and authority of his office “for the corrupt purpose of pursuing or facilitating an adulterous relationship in breach of his duties of good faith and accountability to the public”
  • Willfully and falsely asserted to the South Carolina Criminal Justic Academy that a complete background check had been performed on Derrick L. Pendergrass
  • Willfully disposed of seized assets in breach of his duty to uphold the law and his duties of good faith and accountability to the public
  • Willfully equipped an unqualified employee with a badge in breach of his duty to uphold the law of the State and his duties of good faith and accountabillity to the public
  • Willfully abused the power and authority of his office to oppress and intimidate his employees
  • Willfully engaged in corruption by using the Office of Professional Responsibility of the Greenville Sheriff’s Department to advance or oppress the careers of deputy sheriffs according to his personal bias rathe than their professional performance in breach of his duties 

The obstruction of justice charge according to the indictment allege that Lewis:

  • Obstructed justice through a series of acts intended to prevent, obstruct, impede or hinder the adminstration of justice by oppressing and intimidating his employees

According to that indictment, those employees were potential witnesses in South Carolina Law Enforcement Division’s investigation into Lewis’ conduct and this conduct “was intended to prevent these potential witnesses from speaking freely during the investigation.”

“These are much more specific allegations that hone in as to what is basically the roadmap to what would be shown at trial,” said Mauldin attorney John Reckenbeil, who is not inovled in Lewis’ case. 

If convicted, Lewis could be removed from office, according to Reckenbeil. 

“You can’t get any more serious than this,” Reckenbeil said. “This is the whole essense of what our democracy and what America was founded on was we the people will decide, not some authoritarian king.”

Reckenbeil said the charge that Lewis “disposed of seized assets” means Lewis could have taken money or other seized property from the department. 

“Police officers…seize monies from defendents….cars, telephones, and those are assets that are being held by the sheriff’s department,” he said. “There is some indication in here that the…suspended sheriff was inappropriately using those funds.”

Lewis’ attorney Rauch Wise has not responded to our request for comment. 

Reckenbeil believes the case will go to trial before the end of the year. 

READ: Misconduct of a Public Officer indictments | Misconduct in Office indictments | Obstruction of Justice indictment

We reported last month that Lewis was charged with one count of statutory misconduct in office and one count of perjury.

In April 2018, we reported that Lewis was accused of misconduct in office and obstructing justice.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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