ORANGEBURG, SC (WIS) - Nine people, including seven law enforcement officers, have been indicted in federal court in South Carolina on visa fraud and drug charges, U.S. Attorney Sherri Lydon announced Friday.
Law enforcement officers, including Chief LaCra Jenkins of the Town of Springfield Police Department, are accused of accepting bribes to help others obtain visas to get into or stay in the U.S., according to the U.S. Attorney. In some cases, those indicted are also accused of protecting drug trafficking cartel proceeds in tractor trailers.
Officials say SLED brought the case to the FBI after allegations of wrong doing. “We will find you. We will arrest you. And you will go to prison,” Jodi Norris with the FBI warned of lawbreakers.
Four of the officers involved are Deputy Sheriffs with the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Department. A fifth person involved is a former Orangeburg Deputy who is now a police officer for Springfield Police.
The sixth officer involved in the case is Chief LaCra Jenkins, who is the Chief of Police for the Town of Springfield Police Department.
Springfield Police Chief Jenkins was charged in a 2015 incident alleging misconduct in office while working at the OCSD. He was terminated when the allegations came to light, but completed a program for first time offenders to get charges dropped and record clean
Jenkins was an officer with the Town of Springfield PD in 2017 and resigned. He was brought back on in 2018 to serve as interim chief.
OCSO Deputy Carolyn Franklin, Springfield Police Officer Allan Hunter, and Chief Jenkins are accused of accepting bribes for U-Visas and intent to distribute drugs.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office calls Hunter “the ring leader.”
OCSO Deputy Sheriff Willie Rogers, Terang Patel of KY, and OCSO Deputy Saura Patel are accused in participating in the U-Visa scheme.
OCSO Deputy Sheriff Stanley Timmons, OCSO Deputy Nathan Shazier and OCSO Reserve Deputy James Tucker are accused of accepting bribes in the drug cases.
However, OCSO officials say that Reserve Deputy James Tucker, named in the indictment, is not a reserve officer with the department. He’s charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substance and possession of a firearm during a drug trafficking crime.
Orangeburg County Sheriff Leroy Ravenell says he is “mad as hell” and apologized to the community.
Those charged will be arraigned before a judge Friday. Sheriff Leroy Ravenell will hold a brief press conference at 2 p.m. on March 29 at the Orangeburg County Law Enforcement Complex to address allegations against four of their deputies.
The indictment can be read in full here.