Police Chief, Sheriff’s deputies among officers charged with taking bribes to falsify immigration documents

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – Seven law enforcement officers were indicted Friday in federal court on visa fraud and drug charges.

According to the U.S. District Attorney’s office, one of the alleged schemes in the indictment involved fraudulent U Nonimmigrant Visas also known as U-Visas, which were set aside for victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse as a result of a crime.

To obtain a U-Visa, a law enforcement official must certify that the alien is assisting that law enforcement agency in the investigation or prosecution of the crime of which the alien was a victim.

According to the indictment, four officers helped individuals obtain fraudulent U-Visas by taking bribes for fraudulent certifications and creating fraudulent incident reports indicating that aliens were victims of crimes.

The officers are accused of taking the bribes in exchange for protecting methamphetamine and cocaine or the proceeds of drug trafficking.

The Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office will hold a press conference Friday at 2 p.m. at the Orangeburg County Law Enforcement Complex to address allegations against four of our current deputies.

Those charged are:

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Carolyn Colter Franklin

Conspiracy, Visa Fraud, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Nathaniel Miller Shazier

Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Stanley Lavalle Timmons

Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Willie Paul David Rogers

Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputy James Albert Tucker

*According to Sheriff Leroy Ravenell, James Tucker is not a reserve deputy with the OCSO*

Springfield Police Department Chief Lacra Sharod Jenkins

Conspiracy, Visa Fraud, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Springfield Police Department Officer Allan Hunter, Jr.

Conspiracy, Visa Fraud, Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute Controlled Substances, and Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime

Saurabhkumar Patel of Orangeburg is charged with Conspiracy

Tarang Patel of Newport, Kentucky is charged with Conspiracy and Visa Fraud

If convicted, Jenkins, Hunter, Franklin, Timmons, Shazier, and Tucker face a maximum penalty of life in federal prison.  Rogers, Saurabhkumar Patel, and Tarang Patel face a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.

“With this Indictment, we honor the hard work and dedication of the very fine officers across South Carolina who put on the police uniform every day and risk their lives to protect the rest of us,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon.  “If these allegations are proved, these defendants do not deserve to wear the badge and should not be allowed to bring disrepute on the overwhelming majority of men and women in blue who serve South Carolina with integrity.

We will not tolerate the hypocrisy of those who would pretend to enforce the law, while violating it themselves as they seek to line their own pockets.  We call that public corruption, and we will always call it out.”

The investigation was led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from ICE – Homeland Security Investigations and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys William Camden Lewis and Alyssa Leigh Richardson of the Columbia office.

Categories: Local News, News, State