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Former Union County Sheriff Howard Wells Indicted

United States Attorney, Walt Wilkins, announced today that a federal grand jury has issued four separate indictments related to the Union County Corruption probe naming five Union County residents, including public officials on charges ranging from public corruption to drug distribution.

Those indicted include former Union County Sheriff Wesley Howard Wells.

Sheriff Wells was charged with lying to federal investigators and witness tampering. Sheriff Wells’ indictment claims he allegedly provided several loans to an individual, generating significant interest income to him.

The indictment further alleges Sheriff Wells made false statements in March, 2009 to federal law enforcement agents from the FBI concerning his involvement and concealing his receipt of taxable interest income and the existence of documents acknowledging the same.

The indictment alleges Sheriff Wells engaged in witness tampering in April 2009 by persuading an individual to alter, destroy, mutiliate, and conceal an object with the intent to impair the object’s integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding.

If convicted, Sherriff Wells faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in federal prison along with a $750,000.00 fine.

Union County Supervisor Donald R. Betenbaugh and former Union County Tax Assessor Willie E. Randall, Junior were also named in a forty county indictment.

Charges include conspiracy, extortion, soliciting and accepting bribes, money laundering, structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, and knowingly allowing Union County Tax Assessor’s Office to be used as a “stash house” for the storage and distribution of cocaine and hydrocodone.

Donald Betenbaugh, who is an elected official, is also charged with witness tampering, lying to federal agents, misprison of a felony, obstruction of justice, and illegally distributing Lorazepam, a controlled schedule IV substance.

If convicted Mr. Betenbaugh faces a maximum sentence of 618 years in federal prison as well as a $13 million fine. Mr. Randall faces a maximum sentence of 190 years in federal prison and a fine of $5.25 million dolllars.

Former Union County Tax Assessor Willie Randall, Junior, was also separately indicted with Union County resident Lapriest Darnell Beacham.

Beacham and Randall are charged with conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, and 50 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine. Beacham is further charged with three counts of distribution of cocaine.

If convicted on this indictment, Mr. Randall faces an additional maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison with a mandatory minimum of five years and a fine of $2 million dollars.

Mr. Beacham faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years in a federal prison and a fine of $8 million dollars.

Union County resident Willard Dee Farr was also indicted.

Mr. Farr was charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, aiding and abetting fromer City of Union Mayor E. Bruce Morgan and former City of Union Building and Zoning director Jeffrey Lawson to extort money from contractors seeking to do business with the City of Union, as well as lying to federal investigators. Morgan and Lawson pled guilty and were sentenced to federal prison earlier this year.

If convicted, Farr faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in a federal prison and a $750,000.00 fine.

Those charged are innocent until proven guilty.

Being charged with witness tampering or making false statements to federal investigators, conspiracy, extortion, and distribution are serious crimes that can lead to serious consequences. The criminal defense attorneys at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. include a former United States Attorney, a former public defender, a former Assistant Attorney General and Richland County Assistant Solicitor, as well as a tax lawyer familiar with IRS criminal investigations. The Strom Law Firm will aggressively defend individuals and corporations on all criminal charges in all State and Federal Courts in South Carolina as well as the Federal Courts in Georgia. Our lawyers proudly edit the Columbia, South Carolina Injury Board as well as the Strom Law Blog as a pro bono effort to provide the public valuable information. Our lawyers are licensed in: South Carolina, New York, and Georgia.

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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