Stuart indicted on meth, corruption, misconduct charges

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster suspends Stuart and appoints a former Chester County Magistrate as interim county supervisor.

CHESTER – Chester County Supervisor Shane Stuart has been indicted on multiple charges by the State Grand Jury related to criminal conspiracy, drugs and misconduct in office.

Stuart

Specifically, Stuart stands charged with two counts of manufacturing methamphetamines, one count of trafficking methamphetamines/ice/crank/crank, misconduct in office and criminal conspiracy. He was booked into the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center in Richland County and remained there awaiting a bond hearing as of early Thursday afternoon.

The indictment on criminal conspiracy notes that Stuart “did willfully, unlawfully and feloniously unite, conspire, confederate, agree and have tacit understanding and agreement between two or more persons” regarding theft of catalytic converters from vehicles owned by Chester County” while serving as county supervisor.

The two counts of distribution say Stuart “on or about September 3, 2020 (did) knowingly manufacture, distribute, dispense, deliver and purchase methamphetamine.” The misconduct in office charge relates to the fact that Stuart allegedly trafficked methamphetamines in a county vehicle and during his normal workday.

A separate indictment specifies that Stuart did “possess, sell, manufacture, deliver, purchase or bring into this state 10 grams of more of methamphetamine” in York County.

Also charged were 40-year-old Brittany Jane Oneppo and 32-year-old Ace Donovon Hembree. The latter is a former employee of Chester County, having once served as team leader of the Animal Care and Enforcement team.

In March of last year, Hembree was allegedly drinking at a local restaurant with Stuart and others, attempted to leave in his county truck, backed into another vehicle and left the scene. After a lengthy investigation approved by Chester County Council, Hembree left his position. He was eventually rehired by Stuart, fired by an act of the council, rehired by Stuart and fired again by the council, which also passed an ordinance preventing terminated employees from being rehired for a period of time.

Chester County Council held an emergency meeting Thursday morning to receive legal advice relative to Stuart’s indictment. Sheriff Max Dorsey spoke briefly in the open portion of the meeting, primarily addressing county employees that gathered in council chambers.

“I’m just here to tell you there has been some action taken on the county supervisor,” Dorsey said. “Mr. Stuart is in law enforcement custody. There are some things that have to continue going in our county and, of course, you play that role. You’re the ones that make this county run and operate.”

Dorsey said, “a lot has happened in the last 48 hours” and that information would be limited initially. He acknowledged that employees would have questions that can’t be answered right now. He said the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) was involved in the investigation of Stuart.

The only action taken by the council after a lengthy executive session was to amend the county’s procurement policy. Per normal policy, the county supervisor provides authorization for purchases by department heads, but the council voted to allow that responsibility to fall to Chester County Treasurer Tommy Darby. Councilman Joe Branham read a statement on behalf of the council.

“Chester County was the recipient of disheartening allegations today about the county supervisor…allegations that sadden us all. It is important to recognize that the allegations made are against an individual and not Chester County and not Chester County Council,” he said.

He said the council remains a resilient body and will work to continue moving the county forward.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster issued an executive order late Thursday suspending Chester County Supervisor Kenneth Shane Stuart and appointing Wylie Glenn Frederick as interim county supervisor. Frederick had served as Chester County Magistrate until he was one of four magistrates in Chester County who were not recommended for reappointment by Sen. Mike Fanning last year. The executive order states that Frederick will serve as supervisor of Chester County until Stuart is acquitted or a successor is elected.

Stuart will faced a bond hearing at 10 a.m., Friday before judge DeAndrea Benjamin in Richland County.

This story will be updated as more information is available.

For video of Thursday’s emergency meeting of Chester County Council, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZ0VRZkdRlU