(1) Former Union County Sheriff Wesley Howard Wells was named in a three-count indictment, charging him with lying to federal investigators and witness tampering. The indictment is the result of an investigation into sizable loans allegedly made by Wells to an individual, resulting in significant interest income to Wells. The indictment charges that in March 2009, Wells “made false statements to federal law enforcement agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation concerning his involvement in concealing his receipt of taxable interest income and the existence of documents acknowledging the same.” The indictment also charges that in April 2009, Wells engaged in witness tampering by corruptly persuading an individual identified in the indictment as “J.G.” to mislead federal investigators and to induce J.G. to “alter, destroy, mutilate and conceal an object with intent to impair the object’s integrity and availability for use in an official proceeding.”
If convicted on all counts, Wells faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in federal prison and a $750,000.00 fine.
(2) Union County Supervisor Donald R. Betenbaugh and former Union County Tax Assessor Willie E. Randall, Jr., were named in a 40-count indictment. Both men were charged in the Indictment’s first 15 counts with conspiracy, extortion, soliciting and accepting bribes, money laundering, structuring financial transactions to evade federal reporting requirements, and knowingly allowing the Union County Tax Assessor’s Office to be used as a “stash house” for the storage and distribution of cocaine and hydrocodone. Betenbaugh, an elected official, is also charged in 25 additional counts with witness tampering, lying to federal agents, misprision of a felony, obstruction of justice, and illegally distributing Lorazepam, a schedule IV controlled substance.
If convicted on all counts, Betenbaugh faces a maximum possible sentence of 618 years in federal prison and a fine of $13 million dollars. Randall faces a maximum possible sentence of 190 years in federal prison and a fine of $5.25 million dollars.
(3) Former Union County Tax Assessor Willie E. Randall, Jr., was also named in a separate indictment, along with Union County resident Lapriest Darnell Beacham. Both men are charged with conspiracy since 2007 to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine and 50 grams or more of a mixture containing methamphetamine. Beacham is also charged with three additional counts for distributing cocaine last February.
If convicted on this separate indictment, Randall faces an additional maximum possible sentence of 40 years in federal prison with a mandatory minimum of five years, and a fine of $2 million dollars. Beacham faces a maximum possible sentence of 100 years in federal prison, and a fine of $8 million dollars.
(4) Union County resident Willard Dee Farr was charged in a three-count indictment with conspiracy to commit extortion, aiding and abetting former City of Union Mayor E. Bruce Morgan and former City of Union Building and Zoning director Jeffrey Lawson to extort money from contractors seeking to do business with the City of Union, and lying to federal investigators. Morgan and Lawson have already pled guilty and were sentenced to federal prison earlier this year.
If convicted on all counts, Farr faces a maximum possible sentence of 45 years in federal prison and a fine of $750,000.00.
All five defendants are expected to make an initial appearance in federal court in Greenville today at 2:30 p.m.
Mr. Wilkins stated that the case was investigated by agents of the FBI, the IRS-Criminal Investigation, and SLED, and that he has assigned the case to Assistant United States Attorneys Mark C. Moore, Nancy Wicker, and J.D. Rowell of the Columbia office for prosecution.
The United States Attorney stated that all charges in these Indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
(ADDITIONAL INFORMATION WILL BE FORTHCOMING)