Former Spartanburg Clerk of Court Enters Guilty Plea in
JUN 30 -- Columbia, South Carolina ---- United States Attorney William N. Nettles and Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Atlanta Field Division announced today that, Marcus Woodrow Kitchens, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, pled guilty, as indicted, this afternoon in federal court in Greenville, South Carolina, to both counts of a federal indictment. Count One charged conspiracy to possess with intent to distribution 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). United States District Judge Henry M. Herlong, Jr. of Greenville accepted the plea and will impose sentence after he has reviewed the pre-sentence report which will be prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
Evidence presented at the change of plea hearing established that in mid-2009, an individual was arrested by DEA Orlando (Florida) and agreed to become a confidential source (CS). The CS advised investigators that he obtained the cocaine from a man from Woodruff, SC by the name of Terry Glen Lanford. The CS then advised investigators that Lanford told him that the narcotics were taken directly from an unidentified law enforcement agency’s evidence locker.
During a series of interviews done by the DEA, 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.
According to Lanford, the CS agreed to pay $8000 for methamphetamine and cocaine that Lanford had obtained from Kitchens. Kitchens had taken these drugs from the evidence locker under his control at the Spartanburg County Courthouse.
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. During this recorded conversation, Lanford and Kitchens discussed the logistical issues related to Kitchens removing narcotics from the Spartanburg County Courthouse evidence locker. Kitchens were 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 the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to immediately secure and inventory the evidence room in the Spartanburg County courthouse.
USA Nettles stated that on the drug conspiracy charge Kitchens faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, a fine of $1,000,000, a three-year term of supervised release and a $100 special assessment fee. Kitchens faces up to 10 years on Count 2, along with a fine of $250,000, a three-year term of supervised release and a special assessment fee of $100.
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.
DEA Atlanta’s SAC Benson encourages parents, along with their children, to educate themselves about the dangers of legal and illegal drugs by visiting DEA’s interactive websites at www.justhinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.