Former Sheriff Trial Begins

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By News Department

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- When a sheriff from South Carolina goes on trial Monday, his colleagues across the state will be watching closely.

Sam Parker of Chesterfield County is charged with five counts of misconduct in office, two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates and one count of embezzlement.

Seven of South Carolina's 46 sheriffs have faced charges or criminal investigations in the past four years. Unlike most of them, Parker is fighting the charges.

Prosecutors say Parker gave away guns, allowed people to act as deputies without proper training and gave his inmates too many perks.

But Parker's lawyer says sheriffs in rural areas have done similar things for decades and he is being singled out.

Privately, some sheriffs agree they are facing too much scrutiny from prosecutors.

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