CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Suspended Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart will sit in jail through the weekend, indicted on several charges related to the manufacturing of meth and selling of drugs.
According to the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County, Kenneth Shane Stuart has been charged with two counts of manufacturing methamphetamine, one count of trafficking meth/ice/crank/crack cocaine, one count of criminal conspiracy and one count of misconduct of office.
During his bond hearing Friday morning, a judge moved Stuart’s hearing date to next week to let him get council. Prosecutors wanted Stuart to stay in jail because they deemed him a flight risk, arguing that his ties to the community and the charges against him should keep him behind bars.
Stuart argued he had no priors and would make sure to be in court.
Prosecutors said during the hearing that Stuart used county cars to transport drugs so he wouldn’t be pulled over. He also allegedly conspired to steal car parts from those cars to sell.
“The allegations here today are really a slap in the face to public trust," says Assistant State Attorney General Creighton Waters. “He’s facing a mandatory 25 years which is obviously very serious.”
Stuart faced a judge in a bond hearing on Friday.
Waters disclosed Stuart was a former Chester County deputy. Waters called it a “drop from elected official to jail.”
“With individuals like this who have gone from the very top to the very bottom sometimes they pose the greatest risk to themselves and others just because of the stunning fall from grace,” Waters said.
Attorney General Alan Wilson calls Stuart’s alleged actions an abuse of power if he is convicted.
“The allegations support this narrative that we cannot have people in a position of public trust abuse that trust to not only use that position to facilitate illicit drug activity but to also cover it up,"" says Waters.
“We are dealing with our problem right now so our children will not have to deal with it later. We are making Chester better,” Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said during a press conference Friday afternoon.
Addressing Stuart’s charges, Dorsey said “We are embarrassed by that behavior.”
Dorsey says a large portion of the meth addicts in the county were being supplied by the Chester County supervisor and his co-conspirators. Dorsey says meth contributes to the biggest drug problem in Chester County. Although this is what he calls a long battle never one, Dorsey calls this a major step for Chester County.
Stuart’s alleged co-conspirators, Brittany Oneppo and Ace Hembree, were also in the bond hearing.
Oneppo was given an $80,000 surety bond and will be under strict house arrest. Hembree was denied bond, which made him visibly upset.
The multi-agency investigation into the charges, which were announced a day before on Thursday, included South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Chester County Sheriff’s Office.
“Chester County has experienced a lot of pain recently,” says Sheriff Dorsey.
The South Carolina attorney general’s office unsealed the state grand jury indictments. Four of the five charges are felonies.
The conspiracy charge has a penalty up to five years and/or a fine no more than $25,000. The distribution charges have a penalty of 10-15 years and/or a fine of no more than $25,000 per count.
The 10 grams or more trafficking charge is in York County. That charge comes with a three to 10 year and $25,000 penalty.
An arrest warrant was issued on Thursday for a trafficking more than 400 grams or more of meth. This charge holds a penalty of 25 to 30 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.
The only misdemeanor charge, misconduct in office, carries an up to 10-year sentence and/or a fine. This will be up to the court. All the charges combined could land Stuart in jail for 85 years max.
The attorney general’s press release included court documents from the grand jury, giving more details to why Stuart was charged.
The documents also state he conspired to steal car parts from county vehicles. The office misconduct charges come from Stuart using county cars to transport drugs while on the clock, according to the document.
Sheriff Max Dorsey says a joint investigation led to the arrest of several people, including the former animal control supervisor Ace Hembree. Hembree also got in trouble with the county when he had an accident leaving a bar in a county car.
Another person connected to the arrests is Brittany Oneppo. Oneppo is also known to law enforcement. She was charged with accessory after the fact of a murder. She was charged in connection with Derrick McIlwain, who was charged with the two murders.
This is not the first time Stuart has been in hot water.
Back in May of 2019, county council filed an ethics complaint against him after he gave a raise to then sheriff Alex Underwood. The council said Stuart gave Underwood and four deputies a $20,000 raise back in 2016. South Carolina law states only county council has the authority to give elected officials a raise.
The Chester County council did not release a statement.
On Thursday, the council held an emergency meeting, an executive session “to receive legal advice regarding county administrative proceedings,” officials said.
The council voted to give some of Stuart’s responsibilities to the treasurer.
“Chester County council remains a resilient governing body and while we may disagree from time to time we always govern in the best interest of Chester County and its citizens," says Vice Chairman Joe Branham.
Council members directed all questions to county attorney Joan Winters. Winters could not say much, but says anyone living in the county should not worry.
“There won’t be any effect. We’ve got great staff at Chester County and we have great department heads. They all know their job and it will be seamless," says Winters.
Stuart was elected into office in 2018 and his seat is not up until 2022.
Governor Henry McMaster issued an executive order late Thursday night suspending Stuart. He will be replaced by Wylie Glenn Frederick.