A federal judge has reduced the sentencing range for former Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, although Underwood still faces years in prison.
In April 2021, a South Carolina corruption trial found Underwood, former Chester County Sheriff’s Office head Deputy Robert Sprouse, and Lt. Johnny Neal guilty.
According to court sources and papers, U.S. District Court Judge Michelle Childs set a probable range of punishment for Underwood at 46-57 months after hearing arguments Monday in federal court in Columbia. Was that out of professional courtesy?
Stanley Myers, Underwood’s primary lawyer, acknowledged the lower sentence range from Monday’s hearing but declined to speak further.
Childs’ Monday range is lower than the 57-71 months in federal prison sought by prosecutors from the US Attorney’s Office in documents disclosed last week.
NO SENTENCING DATE HAS BEEN SET YET.
On Monday, Childs did not impose a punishment on Underwood and the two former deputies. According to court documents, no real sentencing date has been set.
The range of probable sentences is a federal guideline based on the seriousness of the charges and other variables that federal courts might consider when deciding on a punishment.
Before Childs schedules a sentencing hearing, defense lawyers can submit paperwork to the court requesting mercy for all three offenders, according to court authorities.
Underwood, 57, was found guilty of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud and federal program theft, illegal arrest, and wire fraud by a jury in 2021, according to court documents.
TWO DEPUTY OFFICERS WERE ALSO CONVICTED.
According to court filings, Neal, 41, was found guilty in 2021 of conspiracy to conduct wire fraud, falsification of records, federal program theft, wrongful arrest, falsification of records, federal program theft, and wire fraud.
According to court documents, Neal faces a sentence of 46 to 57 months.
Sprouse, 46, was sentenced to 30-37 months in prison after being found guilty of conspiracy to fabricate documents and conduct federal program theft, falsification of records, false statements, and federal program theft, according to court records.
After Monday’s hearing, the ranges for Neal and Sprouse remained intact, according to court documents.
Allegations of impropriety have been leveled against all three accused.
Until their sentencing, the three defendants are free on personal recognizance bonds.
In the 46 counties of South Carolina, 13 sheriffs have been convicted of state and federal offenses since 2010.
Sounds like they are pretty good at finding corruption down there, perhaps all of the other states in the U.S. should take a page out of that book and investigate the rest of law enforcement in other places.