Former deputy suing Undersheriff claims evidence destroyed, corruption in sheriff’s office

Former deputy suing Undersheriff claims evidence destroyed, corruption in sheriff’s office

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, SC (WBTV) - A former Chesterfield County deputy is suing the county's Undersheriff - accusing him of a variety of things including destroying evidence, altering investigative reports, creating tension in the department and wrongful termination.

The lawsuit was filed on April 20, in Chesterfield County court. Former deputy Dana Wallace is suing Undersheriff Rob Lee, the Chester County Sheriff's Office and a person listed as John Doe.

According to the lawsuit, Wallace worked for the Sheriff's Office for approximately ten years before being fired in 2014 by Lee. Wallace was hired by former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker, who was convicted on corruption charges in 2014.

WBTV sat down exclusively with Wallace to speak about the suit.

"It devastated me. It humiliated my family. After I was fired, my bills didn't quit coming. My kids didn't stop eating," Wallace said.

Parker was found guilty on five counts of misconduct in office, two counts of giving contraband to inmates and one count of embezzlement and was sentenced to 2 years in prison, with the possibility of parole.

RELATED: Former Chesterfield County sheriff found guilty on corruption charges

Officials say Parker gave special treatment to inmates, took property intended for the sheriff's office and used it for himself, and gave uniforms, badges and weapons to civilians. Parker let two inmates sleep and live in outside the jail in exchange for doing work on his property.

In April 2013, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley asked Rob Lee to serve as the Interim Sheriff of Chesterfield County. He served for 19 months and later accepted the position of Undersheriff at the request of the newly-elected Sheriff, Jay Brooks, in 2014.

During his tenure as interim, the lawsuit claims, the corruption in Chesterfield County continued.

"He had deputies working on his personal vehicle. Well, that's the same thing the previous sheriff was indicted for and I didn't think it was right," Wallace said.

The lawsuit, filed by attorney's Trey Cockrell and Sarah Campbell, is nearly 50 pages long and includes photographs, warrants and police reports as evidence in the case.

"When you see this and you hear about this, you want it to be somewhere else in another state, in another county. Not in your backyard," Cockrell said.

One of the accusations outlined in the lawsuit accuse Lee of destroying evidence and refusing to press charges over concern about his own mortgage.

According to Wallace's lawsuit, Lee found out that a man had "photographs of fully nude juvenile males" and destroyed the photos. When asked why he destroyed the photos, Lee reportedly said "when the man holds the mortgage to your house and your wife is pregnant, you have no choice."

The lawsuit claims Lee took "business-related excursions as a cover for relationships [he] was having with persons to whom he was not married."

Wallace's lawsuit includes two versions of a Sheriff's Office report from 2014 that Wallace claims Lee forced a deputy to alter after the report had been submitted. The original report included the deputy's concerns that a supervisor was attempting to stifle an investigation into a potential child kidnapping case by a parent.

Wallace, in fact, was fired after the Sheriff's Office claims he filed a false report on a case the lawsuit says he was asked to investigate. The case involved campaign signs being removed for a candidate running for Chesterfield County Sheriff.

He says he submitted the report, it was reviewed by Lee and then he was fired. Several months later, Wallace was charged by SLED for filing a false report.

"I tried to explain the mistake on the report and he didn't want to hear any of it," Wallace said.

The warrant in the case shows that on April 21, 2014 Wallace was listed as responding to two separate incidents during the same time frame.

After being fired, Wallace filed for unemployment benefits but was told that Lee had indicated he had fired Wallace "for cause, based on a violation county policy," the lawsuit states.

Lee then requested a hearing, which was held on July 28, 2014.

After testimony from both sides, the lawsuit states, the tribunal found that Lee had discharged Wallace "without cause," and the Wallace's benefits were reinstated.

Wallace is suing for slander, wrongful discharge, Payment of Wages Act, civil conspiracy, false imprisonment, battery and false arrest.

He is requesting that a jury hear the case.

"I hope that justice is served," Wallace said.

Sheriff Brooks gave WBTV the following statement on Friday:

"It's disappointing that the Plaintiff and his attorney chose, even before notifying my office of the suit, to begin attempting to try this case in the media.  As I indicated in my initial statement, the proper fashion in which to handle the case is through the court system, where it was filed by the Plaintiff, and I know our counsel will do so in a professional manner.  Although I will not comment on any of the specific allegations of the suit, I am confident that once the actual and complete set of facts are known, they will paint a much different picture than what appears in the Plaintiff's Complaint and what the Plaintiff and his attorney have been trying to advance through the media."

Lee is being represented by county attorney Heath Ruffner. WBTV asked Ruffner for comment, he pointed us to Brooks' statement.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.