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CHESTERFIELD – Former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker was found guilty on all eight counts against him and will serve at least two years in prison.
“Today is a sad day in my life,” Parker said, in addressing the Circuit Court Judge Lee Alford and the court.
“I respect the verdict…I apologize to Chesterfield County and what I put this county through.”
Parker also apologized to his deputies and for bringing embarrassment to them.
“I still love them,” he said.
Becoming emotional, Parker said most of all he wanted to apologize to his family and friends who supported him through this ordeal.
“Today ends a 40-year career in law enforcement. I will never be able to be a law enforcement officer again after today,” Parker said.
After nine days of testimony and deliberating for a little more than four hours on Thursday, April 17, jury of his peers reached its decision.
“We have a verdict,” said Alford, who presided over the criminal trial. “Whatever it is, we will respect the jury’s verdict. Keep your emotions in check. If you can’t, go ahead and leave now.”
The jury foreman gave the verdict sheet to a clerk of the court who read it aloud.
Parker was found guilty of two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates, including weapons and other contraband; five counts of misconduct in office including failure to supervise inmates, converting public property to own personal use, failure to discharge his duties involving the training of officers, lack of supervision in the distribution of equipment and firearms, taking funds intended for his department and depositing them into his personal bank account; and one count of embezzlement for using public funds less than $10,000 and depositing them into his personal bank account.
When the verdict was read, there was complete silence in the courtroom. After the jury was dismissed, the judge offered a 10 minute recess before sentencing.
Family and friends of Parker then let their emotions go, crying and embracing each other and the former sheriff.
Before sentencing, three people begged the mercy of the judge including Marlboro County Sheriff Fred Knight.
Parker himself told the judge, “It’s not about me. It’s about my daughter – that child is my life – and my grandchildren. I ask mercy for my baby and my grandchildren, your honor.”
Alford acknowledged that he did not know Parker and that the former sheriff had no criminal record.
“But my concern is you were given an opportunity to correct these things and you did nothing,” Alford said. “That is the biggest mistake you made. You chose to ignore them. You’ve done things most sheriffs wouldn’t even think about doing regarding misconduct.
“When people lose faith in the justice system and law enforcement, then we won’t have a justice system,” the judge said. “No one is above the law.”
The judge said if he were to give Parker the full extent of the sentence, he was looking at serving some 30 years in prison. He said he thought Parker was a good man who made some bad mistakes.
The judge sentenced Parker to five years, with two years of service and three years of probation, which means he will have to serve at least two years. If he breaks probation, he will have to serve the full five-year prison sentence.
Alford denied motions for a new trial made by the defense before sentencing. The judge said there was substantial evidence including more than 45 witnesses and 150 exhibits.
Alford praised the patience and attentiveness of the jury and the job performance of state prosecutors Heather Weiss and Kinli Abee, and defense attorneys Johnny Gasser and Greg Harris.
Having been a judge for more than 35 years, Alford said this was one of the longest trials he has presided over.
Parker was immediately placed into custody to be taken to a prison facility in South Carolina.