Prosecutor wants judge to step aside in resentencing request

February 28, 2018

BEAUFORT, S.C. (AP) — A fiery exchange between the prosecutor leading the investigation of corruption at the South Carolina Statehouse and the judge presiding in the case of former House majority leader Rick Quinn Jr. ended Wednesday win no decision on the possibility of a stiffer decision.

Prosecutor David Pascoe asked Circuit Judge Carmen Mullen to step aside during a hearing in Beaufort, saying she was not “fair and impartial.”

Mullen refused and ordered a 10-minute recess.

The hearing resumed but then adjourned shortly afterward, with no decision on whether Quinn deserved a more serious sentence.

Pascoe and Quinn reached a plea agreement and he resigned in December and pleaded guilty to one count of misconduct in office. The agreement included the dropping of all charges against Quinn’s father, Richard Quinn, a prominent Republican consultant.

Mullen sentenced Rick Quinn to two years of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine on Feb. 12.

Pascoe tried repeatedly during that sentencing to get a more substantial sentence, citing other allegations against the Lexington lawmaker. Mullen refused to consider the other allegations during the sentencing

Pascoe has said Mullen went too light on Quinn, a man he’s described as the most corrupt politician in South Carolina. Pascoe has said Quinn abused his office by leveraging his influence to benefit his family’s corporate and political clients. Quinn and his father deny those allegations and have accused Pascoe, a Democrat, of going on political witch hunt.

Mullen has told Pascoe that considering additional accusations in sentencing would violate Rick Quinn’s constitutional rights and that the prosecutor should have taken the case to trial if he wanted all of the charges considered.

Pascoe has said Mullen made legal errors in her handling of the case.

Quinn’s lawyer Matthew Richardson said Pascoe’s presentation about broad misconduct by the former legislator was “not trustworthy or reliable.”

Quinn’s December plea acknowledged that he omitted the University of South Carolina, which leased office space from a company tied to him, on his 2016 economic interest statement. In return, the prosecution dropped other charges against him that could have landed Quinn behind bars for a decade.

As part of the deal, Quinn’s father’s political and marketing consulting firm, Richard Quinn & Associates, agreed to pay $5,500 to settle an illegal lobbying charge. Richard Quinn must also testify before the State Grand Jury if requested.

After Wednesday’s hearing, Rick Quinn repeated his allegations against the prosecutor.

This man is using the state law to prosecute and investigate his political adversaries,” Quinn said. “Scoring political points ... is more important to him than actually getting to the truth.”

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