Former Spartanburg Clerk of Court Sentenced in Federal Court
|U.S. Attorney’s Office December 20, 2010|
COLUMBIA, SC—United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated today that Marcus Woodrow Kitchens, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, was sentenced to 70 months this afternoon in federal court in Greenville, South Carolina, after entering a guilty plea to both counts of a federal indictment in June of this year. Count One charged conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a quantity of a substance containing a detectible amount of methamphetamine and cocaine, a violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846. Count Two charged theft from a federally funded organization by an agent of said organization, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 666(a)(1)(A). Senior United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr. of Greenville imposed the sentence.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing in June established that in mid-2009, an individual was arrested by DEA Orlando (Florida) and agreed to become a confidential source (CS) and cooperate with DEA investigators regarding an upstate South Carolina narcotics broker with a suspected law enforcement source of supply. After a debriefing of CS by law enforcement, CS told law enforcement that in April of 2009, he purchased a quantity of cocaine from an individual identified as Terry Glenn Lanford, a Woodruff, SC, business owner and real estate developer. CS further advised investigators that Lanford told him that the narcotics were taken directly from an unidentified law enforcement agency’s evidence locker and that the narcotics were still packaged in what appeared to be an unidentified law enforcement agency's evidence bag.
On January 7, 2009, DEA/Greenville, including officers from the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office and the Greenwood County Sheriff’s Office assigned to the DEA task force, interviewed Lanford at his place of business in Woodruff and again on January 8, 2009, at the DEA Greenville office. During these interviews, Lanford agreed to cooperate and relayed to agents that his source for the narcotics supplied to the Florida CS was Marcus Woodrow Kitchens, the elected Clerk of Court for Spartanburg County. Lanford advised that Kitchens obtained narcotics from the evidence room at the Spartanburg County Courthouse. Lanford told agents that he made frequent business trips to Florida and that in April of 2009, Lanford negotiated the sale of the drugs provided by Kitchens to the confidential source (CS) in Orlando.
According to Lanford, the CS agreed to pay $8000 for all of the drugs and provided Lanford an advance of $3000. Lanford then provided the CS with methamphetamine and cocaine that he had gotten from Kitchens. Kitchens had taken these drugs from the evidence locker under his control at the Spartanburg County Courthouse. Lanford told agents that he gave a portion of the money he received from the CS to Kitchens when he returned from Florida.
After his initial meetings with DEA/Greenville on January 7 and January 8, 2010, Lanford placed several phone calls to Kitchens, which were monitored and recorded by law enforcement. In these calls, Lanford told Kitchens that in his recent travels to Florida, he had re-established contact with the buyer (CS); furthermore, that the buyer was now willing to pay the remainder ($5000) of the negotiated price from the April 2009 transaction. Lanford relayed to Kitchens that the buyer (CS) wanted to buy more drugs if Kitchens could obtain them. Kitchens agreed to look for more drugs.
Lanford and Kitchens communicated from January 8, 2010, through February 2, 2010, via cell phone conversations, text messages, and voice mails. Though Kitchens was unable to obtain additional drugs from the evidence room, Lanford told Kitchens that he was still able to obtain partial owed funds from the buyer in Florida. Kitchens and Lanford agreed to meet on the morning of February 2, 2010, at a Spartanburg restaurant. Lanford wore an electronic recording device and the meeting was recorded. Additionally, agents were inside the restaurant and able to capture still photos and live video of the meeting.
During this meeting, Lanford gave Kitchens an envelope containing $3000 in documented funds. Kitchens gave Lanford $200 from the envelope for gas money. During this recorded conversation, Lanford and Kitchens discussed the logistical issues related to Kitchens removing narcotics from the Spartanburg County Courthouse evidence locker; and, Kitchens told Lanford that he was unable to obtain additional narcotics from the evidence room.
Kitchens was arrested by DEA agents as he left the restaurant.
Agents from the Greenville FBI office joined the investigation in advance of the money exchange between Lanford and Kitchens. Specifically, local FBI agents along with the FBI Evidence Response Team worked tirelessly with members of the Spartanburg County Clerk’s Office, Solicitor Trey Gowdy and his staff, and SLED to immediately secure and inventory the evidence room in the Spartanburg County courthouse.
As to the elements of Count Two of the Indictment, Marcus Kitchens, as the popularly elected Clerk of Court for Spartanburg County, South Carolina, was, in April of 2009, an agent of the local government of Spartanburg, South Carolina. Furthermore, Kitchens, in removing a quantity of drugs from the evidence room at the county courthouse, embezzled, stole, obtained by fraud and without authority, and knowingly converted to the use of a person not the rightful owner, property worth at least five thousand dollars ($5,000.00), that was owned by, under the care, custody, or control of the County of Spartanburg (South Carolina). Lastly, the County of Sptg, in a one year period, received benefits of more than $10,000 under any Federal program involving a grant, contract subsidy, loan, guarantee, insurance, or other assistance. [The one year period must begin no more than 12 months before the defendant committed these acts and must end no more than 12 months afterward.]
The case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Assistant United States Attorneys Lance Crick and Andy Moorman of the Greenville Office handled the case.