6/21/2006South Carolina Grand Jury Indicts Speed Trap Town
The municipal judge and police chief in McBee, South Carolina indicted on charges of using speed traps and car seizures to raise money for the city.
A South Carolina grand jury on Thursday indicted the police chief and municipal judge in the town of McBee for official misconduct in office as they used the police force to raise money with speed traps and automobile seizures between March and October of last year. Judge Fred D. Stephens, 64, and Chief Joseph D. McLemore, 62, each face a possible ten-years prison sentence.
According to the charges, motorists passing through the town of 714 residents would be pulled over for speeding and then searched. If something illegal was found, the driver would be offered a deal dropping the charges in return for payment of a fine or turning over their vehicle to the town. The jury found sufficient evidence that the pair, "did engage in acts of misconduct in breach of their duties to the public of good-faith, honesty and accountability, such acts consisting of a deliberate and willful failure to enforce the laws of the state faithfully, and in a manner consistent with the obligations and duties of their offices."
McLemore has quit his job and the town council suspended Stephens. State Attorney General Henry McMaster's office will prosecute the case in a Chesterfield County court.