Former sheriff Underwood’s corruption case headed for jury as prosecutor, defensive clash


The War of Words was held in federal court in Colombia on Thursday as former Chester County Sheriff Alex “Big A” Underwood and two former lawmakers clashed with competing prosecution and defense depictions in closing arguments to Underwood’s corruption trial. It became a central stage.

The case was sent to the jury around 4 pm after the conclusion of the trial on the ninth day.

In closing arguments of almost 90 minutes, federal prosecutor Rebecca Schumann told the jury that Underwood Includes years of crime He scooped up the money he deserved to participate in a DUI checkpoint scam and tricked his own agent.

“This is the case for all the ways these defendants abused their power and the trust of the people of Chester County,” Schumann told the jury.

“These defendants lied, bullied, and even lied,” Schumann said.

Two former Underwood lawmakers, Deputy Chief of Staff Robert Sprouse and Lieutenant Johnny Neil, are also on trial.

All three were part of a multifaceted conspiracy, including alleged misconduct, from civil rights infringement to falsification of documents, lies to federal agents, skimming money from federal programs, and misuse of agents. It has been accused of being there. Working hours build a large red barn on Underwood’s property.

Underwood, Neil and Sprouse declined Relying on their lawyers to testify, the government claimed that it had no evidence to convict them “beyond reasonable doubt.”

According to evidence submitted to the jury since April 12, when the case began, each of the three participated in various alleged acts of conspiracy.

Following Schumann, one of Underwood’s defense lawyers, Stanley Myers, took the lead in court, trying to put prosecutor Schumann and her fellow prosecutor William Miller in prison for his beloved hard-working sheriff. I accused him of doing so.

Underwood created a family environment in his office and was considered an “uncle,” Myers said, his voice quivering and appearing near tears.

“There may be people in Chester County who deserve handcuffs, but Alex Underwood isn’t one of them,” Myers begged the jury to “don’t rush to make a decision.”

Various charges in the case are subject to penalties ranging from 1 to 5 to 20 years in prison. If they are found guilty, the decision will be delayed by at least a few months.

Myers also reminded the jury several times that prosecutors Schumann and Miller were not South Carolinas, but “people of the Justice Department who came all the way from Washington, DC to prosecute the case.” (The prosecutor is part of a special judicial anti-corruption unit. We are here because the Federal Attorney’s Office in South Carolina has filed a dispute in this case.)

Myers saved his strongest poison for the FBI’s lead case agent, Rodney Naramore. Myers did not say it was up to the prosecutor to decide who to put on the witness stand. At least one other FBI agent, Julie Jerck, testified.

Myers also said the government couldn’t prove the claim: “No eavesdropping. No confidential informants. No text messages. You don’t have email.” — Evidence prosecution of all kinds. Used by government officials to submit evidence.

Prosecutor Schumann’s allegations lacked eavesdropping, informants, text, or email, but she led the jury into a complex chain of cases and suspended the display of various example items. When doing, he provided other evidence of various types: photos of the various scenes mentioned in the testimony, the flowchart she described, of the taxpayer’s money on an illegal journey into the agent’s pocket. Shows the route and time diagram.

Among Schumann’s points:

▪ ▪ Using an agent to help Underwood put a large barn with a “man’s cave”, speakers, soundstage, and bar on his property, does Underwood have them to the agent? It was a kind of government property theft because I paid like this was actually working and the agent timed the day in the underwood barn as a working day for the actual agent shift. This was all for Underwood’s personal interests, Schumann said.

“If they weren’t there, they would have served the masses,” she said.

▪ ▪ Hope Bradley, Underwood’s administrative assistant, conceals the fact that Underwood and Sprouse were taking their wives to the National Sheriffs’ Association convention in Reno, Nevada with first-class airfares. , Testified that he “whitened out” his travel voucher. Schumann then reminded the jury that Sprouse and Underwood used taxpayer funds to pay their wife’s travel expenses, in violation of county rules.

“Government funding rules apply to everyone,” she said. “Sheriffs do not exceed the rules.”

Two years after the trip, Underwood and Sprouse immediately repaid about $ 2,700 to the county when asked by reporters about using government funds to travel to Nevada, with no government funds being used. I told the reporter.

“This wasn’t an oversight-it was a cover-up,” she told the jury.

One of Underwood’s and his agents’ most serious crimes was called by Schumann as the illegal arrest of Kevin Simpson, a young man who was livestreaming at a Facebook live event in front of SC9’s home near Chester Lancaster. It was a series of actions. Rhein, Schumann said.

Schumann said Schumann often stood in his property line in front of his house at SC9 when Underwood turned him back to his property and stopped him filming. Schumann has never interfered with law enforcement and has always returned considerably from the proceedings, Schumann said, citing Simpson’s 27-minute video replayed to the jury as evidence.

Simpson was a community journalist telling people what was happening in a series of events, including a horrific car accident, an elderly woman with amputated legs, a man hunt, and an emergency medical evacuation helicopter.

Schumann admitted that Simpson had spoken to Underwood, but that was not the reason for what happened to Simpson.

Schumann also quoted Fort Loan’s volunteer fire brigade leader Allen Calpe. He stood in front of Simpson’s house all the time and backed up Simpson’s account with testimony early in the trial.

Neil was escorting Simpson to a waiting police car after Underwood and Neil subdued Simpson and arrested him for chaotic behavior. Schumann told the jury “like a Tater’s sack”, citing the testimony of Calpe’s Witnesses. At the time, Schumann was handcuffed and placed his hands behind his back, not provocative, Schumann said.

Neil’s lawyer Andrew Johnston disputed the version of Schumann’s case, saying there was clear evidence that Simpson had stumbled and retreated.

“This wasn’t excessive force. It wasn’t even force — the man fell,” Johnston told the jury.

Simpson told the jury that Underwood did not try to seize his cell phone, but rather to protect Simpson and his five-year-old nephew because there were fugitives in the area.

In closing arguments, Underwood’s second agent, Sprouse’s lawyer, Michael Laubshire, said Sprouse did not change records, did not lie to the FBI, and was not involved in the plot between Underwood and Neil. Said that.

In addition, Sprouse did not try to mislead the FBI or anyone else about party barns, trips to Reno, or Simpson’s arrest. Laubshire said Sprouse had always planned a refund for his wife’s trip to Chester County, but forgot until he remembered it.

“If this was a cover-up, it’s the worst I’ve ever seen,” Laubshire told the jury. “In the case of the government, it’s shows, parades, theaters, and the government is trying to say these are bad guys.”

However, in closing arguments, federal prosecutor Miller said that defense lawyers would scoop money, change reports, use sub-labor in Underwood’s barn, and lie on every occasion to avoid detection. He said he was just trying to divert the jury’s attention from the defendant’s plans.

The defense also sought to distract the jury by saying that the amount at stake was a small potato when the accused was entrusted with public confidence that it would exceed the law.

“They were law enforcement officers and had the ability to arrest guns and people,” Miller said. “They had badges. They broke public trust.”

Miller closed by returning the jury to Kevin Simpson’s video with Underwood. It ended when Underwood accidentally arrested Simpson and ordered a plot to hide it. Neil slammed Simpson into the ground with excessive force, and Sprouse was part of a follow-up plan that included all three that hadn’t been reported for two months.

“Underwood relied on egopower,” Miller said. “He made the situation worse and arrested Simpson … The video shows a civil rights infringement.”

According to Miller, the case simply resulted in three law enforcement agencies bullying employees, fraudulent the masses, and trying to cover up the entire fraud when arrested.

“They lied to get what they wanted, and when they were caught, they lied to hide it,” Miller said.

Another prosecutor, Miller and Schumann, took the jury out of the reality that police used their power, authority, and access to money to travel, earn extra cash, and accidentally arrest the jury. He said it was a diversion. Boldness against them.

Schumann told the jury to be wary of the defense debate. “Don’t be fooled,” she said.

It is presided over by Federal Judge Michel Childs.