Will Lewis Gets 1 Year in Prison

Guilty of Misconduct

Associated Press
October 25, 2019 - 5:32 am

© Josh Morgan/Staff, The Greenville News via Imagn Content Services, LLC

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1:15PM

Following the conviction of suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis, Governor Henry McMaster has removed Lewis from office. 

In an executive order (2019-36) issued by the Governor's office Friday, the office of Sheriff of Greenville County has been declared vacant. 

Interim Sheriff Johnny Mack Brown will continue to serve as Greenville County Sheriff until a special election is held in accordance with South Carolina state law. 

 

UPDATE

Conway Belangia, Director of Elections for Greenville County told 1063 WORD News, the primary will be held January 7 and a runoff if necessary on January 21.

The special election for Greenville County Sheriff will be held March 10.

 

10:53am.  Judge G. Thomas Cooper has sentenced Former Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis to One Year in Jail.

10:50am Judge G. Thomas Cooper speaks.  He says that Lewis did not steal money from Greenville County, but time and energy from fellow officers and citizens. 

 

10:44am Will Lewis speaks to Judge.  Says "I dont deserve my family in tact."  He says "I am truly sorry for what I have done that led me to this position."

Lewis also spoke about his integrity saying he "may not have integrity,"  knowing that his is in question.

Lewis has asked the Judge for in home incarceration, probation and/or community service.

Lewis said "I am scared if I go to jail I wont be able to rebuild my family."

 

Oct. 25th 10:31am:  Will Lewis sentencing uderway.  The Prosecution asking for the harshest punishment possible for the charge of misconduct in office, which is one year in prison.  Lewis is found guilty of one count of misconduct in office for using his power and public resources to have sex with his personal assistant, Savannah Nabors. 

Lewis stands behind the podium in front of the Judge, hands behind his back and occassionally turning his wedding band. 

His Lawyer stands to his right, Lewis' wife to his left.   

The Prosecution asked the Judge to keep in consideration when sentencing, the State had to pay over $200,000 to settle the civil suit with former assistant Savannah Nabors in 2018 for sexual assault. 

SLED also spent over $150,000 investigating Lewis. 

 

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A South Carolina sheriff faces up to a year in prison and will lose his job after a jury found him guilty Thursday of misconduct in office.

A Greenville jury deliberated more than four hours before splitting its verdicts, finding suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis guilty of misconduct that involves corruption or fraud, but not guilty of misconduct that involves not doing a public job properly.

The jury’s verdict came back after 10:30 p.m., so Circuit Judge G. Thomas Cooper delayed Lewis’ sentencing until Friday. Cooper wanted to keep Lewis in jail overnight since he faces up to a year in jail, but defense lawyer Rauch Wise promised Lewis would return to court. The conviction also requires Lewis to be removed from office.

“Mr. Lewis, if you aren’t here tomorrow all hell is going to rain down on you,” the judge said.

Lewis is the ninth sheriff in South Carolina to be convicted of crimes while in office in the past decade. The convicted sheriffs’ crimes have ranged from using inmates for personal work to running a scheme to create fake police reports to help fix credit problems to protecting drug dealers. Two other sheriffs are awaiting trials.

Lewis testified in his own defense in the four-day trial, saying he did not plan to have sex with his young female assistant at an out-of-town budget conference, but one thing led to another after they went out for drinks and ended up in her hotel room.

Prosecutors disagree. They said Lewis used his power to set up the encounter, first by hiring the woman at an inflated salary and then by setting up the trip and making excuses to get her alone.

No sexual assault charges have been filed against Lewis. The assistant, Savanah Nabors, was paid nearly $100,000 from a state insurance fund in May to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit against Lewis, Greenville County and the sheriff’s office.

In his testimony, the sheriff insisted several times that while his behavior was stupid, a violation of sheriff’s office policy and perhaps even the kind of conduct for which he would fire an employee, it was not a crime. He said sex with the assistant was consensual; Nabors said it was not and wrote in a public blog about waking up to find him on top of her.

Prosecutors said Lewis, 43, hired the then-22-year-old Nabors to be his personal assistant after his 2016 election, paying her $62,000 a year in an agency where the starting salary for a deputy is around $30,000, to persuade her to have sex with him.

Lewis offered Nabors perks such as her own taxpayer-funded vehicle and parking space, and let her into crime scenes, despite her having no police training, prosecutors said.

South Carolina has a broad misconduct law that allows prosecutors to pursue charges against any public officials who don’t do their jobs properly. The prosecutors in Lewis’ case said the sheriff misused county money to hire an unqualified person for an unnecessary position and that he used his power as sheriff to make Nabors fear for her job if she didn’t do what he wanted.

Nabors had previously gone public with the details of what she called an unwanted sexual encounter with Lewis in 2017 in a Charlotte, North Carolina, hotel. She wrote in a blog that she woke up after drinks and the sheriff was on top of her and having sex.

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