After pleading guilty to theft of federal funds and making a false statement, a former South Carolina police chief was recently sentenced to a year in federal prison for stealing nearly $80,000 in cash from the evidence locker and lying to investigators.
On September 12, 2015, the Manning Police Department seized drugs and nearly $80,000 from two suspects at a traffic stop. The money was placed in the Manning Police Department Evidence Room and was later intended to legally purchase equipment for the police department.
One week later, Manning Police Chief Gary Shaffer began depositing thousands of dollars into bank accounts belonging to him and his wife. Between September 19 and November 10, 2015, Shaffer deposited $78,514 in cash into personal bank accounts.
After the FBI received a tip that Shaffer had stolen the money from the evidence room, the police chief initially denied stealing the cash and falsely told investigators that he received the money from his brother. During a separate interview, Shaffer’s brother reportedly denied giving the money to him.
According to the indictment, Shaffer was aware that banks are required to report to the Treasury Department by filing a Currency Transaction Report (CTR) if a customer deposits or withdraws more than $10,000. In order to avoid federal investigators, Shaffer purposefully made deposits less than $10,000 between September and November 2015.
In July 2018, the city council voted to fire Shaffer as Chief of Police for “violation of agency policy not involving misconduct” which could have been “substandard performance, excessive absenteeism, sleeping on duty, etc.” In January 2019, Shaffer was arrested by FBI agents and charged with theft of federal funds, money laundering, structuring, and two counts of false statements.
In July 2019, Shaffer pleaded guilty to theft of federal funds and making a false statement. On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced that Shaffer was sentenced to one year and one day in federal prison followed by one year of court-ordered supervision.
“Those who are sworn to uphold the law must lead by example. The Defendant here dishonored his oath, violated the public’s trust, and deserved his federal prison sentence,” said U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy Jr. in a recent statement. “As this case shows, no one is above the law. This office will not allow those who are supposed to protect our community to take advantage of the people of South Carolina.”
“I took an oath when I was sworn in as a police officer back in 1993, and I violated that oath by stealing the money,” Shaffer said during his sentencing. “It was immoral, it was unethical. I chose to do those things for the wrong reason.”
According to prosecutor William Lewis, Shaffer has paid at least $10,900 in restitution.