Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The South Carolina Supreme Court ordered a two-year suspension of an attorney employed as a disciplinary counsel who had been charged with solicitation and impersonating a law enforcement officer:
On or about November 2, 2006, respondent was arrested in Richland County for the crime of soliciting prostitution in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 16-15-90 and § 16-15-100 (2003). The warrant alleged respondent met with an undercover South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) agent posing as a prostitute and solicited the undercover agent for sex.
As a result of the same occurrences, respondent was also arrested on November 2, 2006 in Richland County for impersonating a law enforcement agent in violation of S.C. Code Ann. § 16-17-720 (2003). The warrant alleged that, during the encounter with the undercover SLED agent who was posing as a prostitute, respondent verbally identified himself as a SLED agent by presenting a badge and stating he was a SLED agent. At the time of the arrests, respondent was employed on a full-time basis as an attorney with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel and the badge he presented to the undercover SLED agent was his Disciplinary Counsel badge.
Respondent admits that, during his conversation with the undercover SLED agent, he made statements that she reasonably understood to be soliciting prostitution, even though he did not offer money but, instead, used words that reasonably represented an arrangement had been made by respondent’s friend in the escort service business which would allow for sexual activity without payment. Respondent also acknowledges that, during the encounter with the undercover SLED agent, he stated he had overheard information regarding investigations into prostitution activity while he was at SLED and stated that he might be able to provide information regarding future prostitution investigations. Respondent admits that the statements concerning his ability to inform about future prostitution investigations were false; the Special Prosecutor has no evidence to establish otherwise. Respondent further admits that, during the exchange with the undercover SLED agent, he identified himself as a “SLED agent” and, upon her inquiry as to what “SLED” meant, he responded “State Law Enforcement Division” or words to that effect.
The responsibility for prosecuting respondent for these crimes was transferred to the Solicitor’s Office of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. Respondent was allowed to enter the Pre-Trial Intervention Program and he completed that program on or about September 8, 2008.
The court declined to impose the sanction retroactive to the attorney's interim suspension in light of what the court characterized as the serious nature of the misconduct. (Mike Frisch)