COLUMBIA, S.C. — A former South Carolina lawmaker should not be sent to prison on a corruption charge in part because his prosecutor didn’t push for jail time for a police officer who killed an unarmed man and another officer who forced a woman to engage in a sex act by threatening to arrest her boyfriend, his lawyers said.
Rep. Richard Quinn’s attorneys cited eight cases where politicians and police officers pleaded guilty to the same misconduct in office charge that Quinn pleaded guilty to in December and they all received probation.
Solicitor David Pascoe asked for prison time after Quinn pleaded guilty to reporting some clients who gave more than $4 million to his father’s consulting company. The charge carries up to a year behind bars.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen delayed Quinn’s sentencing after the Dec. 13 hearing.
In court papers released Monday, Quinn’s lawyers pointed out several state politicians given probation for what appeared to be more serious misconduct, like former Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, who reported fictitious campaign donations and took money from his campaign fund to buy clothes, football tickets and a TV, and former state Sen. Robert Ford, who spent campaign money in adult novelty stores and forged documents to try to cover it up.
The lawyers also pointed out that former House Speaker Bobby Harrell and ex-state Rep. James Merrill have been given probation during Pascoe’s current Statehouse corruption probe.
The court papers also cited cases Pascoe personally handled, like former Eutawville Police Chief Richard Combs, who the prosecutor tried twice before hung juries for a murder charge for shooting an unarmed man during a fight. Combs would ultimately plead guilty to misconduct in office and get a year of home detention and five years of probation.
“In Combs, although Solicitor Pascoe asked two juries to send Combs to jail for life, he ultimately stood silent at the plea when it came to a request for punishment of incarceration, Quinn’s attorneys wrote.
Quinn’s lawyers also pointed out that Pascoe didn’t seek jail time for ex-Orangeburg County deputy Dereck Johnson after he forced a woman to have oral sex by threatening to arrest her boyfriend during a domestic violence call.
A sentencing date for Quinn has not been set.
Also in court papers released Monday, Pascoe asked that Quinn’s plea deal be tossed unless he agreed to add the word “intentionally” to his admission of guilt.
Quinn’s attorneys have not responded directly to that request but said in court papers that they worry Pascoe feels like he let Quinn off too easy and is trying to go back on his deal.