Former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sanford Marion “Sam” Parker Jr. will spend two years behind bars after being found guilty on each of the eight charges of public corruption against him. His sentence, handed down by Judge Lee S. Alford, includes three years probation.
Parker was found guilty on one count of embezzlement, two counts of furnishing contraband to inmates, and five counts of misconduct in office. Alford sentenced Parker to five years in prison, suspended on the service of two years of active time, followed by three years’ probation on the contraband and embezzlement charges, to run concurrent. Parker was also sentenced to one year on each misconduct charge, to run concurrent.
The trial, which lasted nearly two weeks, generated an unprecedented amount of media coverage, including television and Twitter. Alford allowed full coverage of the trial, but did not allow any images to be made of members of the jury.
Parker’s family, and other supporters in the courtroom the evening Parker was sentenced, were told to “keep their emotions in check” as each of the eight verdicts were delivered, and they did.
No one spoke. No one moved.
The courtroom echoed with silence between the rendering of each of the eight guilty verdicts. Parker and his wife, Pam Parker, were not sitting together, but each sat motionless, with vacant expressions, as the verdicts were read.
Alford, who has been a judge for 35 years, said when he first began his career he made a promise to himself that he would never do anything to cause people to “loose faith in our justice system.”
“My deepest concern,” Alford told Parker, was that opportunities to correct some mistakes were ignored. “No one is above the law.”
Parker was found guilty of embezzling approximately $8,800, most of which was used to purchase a new motor for the county rescue boat that prosecuting attorneys called “Parker’s shrimp boat.” There were also checks, proceeds from the drink machines, that were mailed directly to Parker’s home.
Parker was found guilty of issuing weapons to civilians, including former First Baptist Church pastor Dan Barber.
Parker also was found guilty of allowing inmates to target practice at his home, participate in public events, and attend church with his family.
Parker’s defense claimed he did not have knowledge of the details contained in the contract that allowed Chesterfield County to participate in a trustee inmate program. The court determined Parker’s ignorance of the law was no excuse, as his signature was on each year’s contract.
According to a statement from the Attorney General’s Office, “Parker allowed convicted Department of Corrections inmates to sleep and live outside the jail without supervision, as well as attending special events, in exchange for performing work on Parker’s house and personal property and performing work within the sheriff’s office.”
Parker also was found guilty of taking property intended for the sheriff’s office to use for himself, in addition to giving uniforms and weapons to civilians.
Parker’s parting words before the judge expressed remorse for the effect his actions have had on his department and his family.
“Today’s a sad day in my life,” Parker said, as it ended a 40-year career in law enforcement.
— Karen Kissiah can be reached by calling 843-537-5261.