JAN 13 (GREENVILLE, S.C.) – Charles Anderson, an attorney in Anderson, S.C., pleaded guilty to obstruction charges in federal court today before U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs in Greenville, S.C., announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
Harry S. Sommers, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Field Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which oversees offices in Georgia, North and South Carolina (to include the Greenville, S.C. Resident Office who worked this case) and Tennessee Office, and Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas, join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today's announcement.
According to court documents and today's plea hearing, Anderson, 44, pleaded guilty to one count of making materially false statements to a department or agency of the United States.
Court records show that Anderson represented Lonnie Maddox, who is currently facing federal drug charges in South Carolina stemming from a large-scale cocaine conspiracy. Court records indicate that on five occasions from February 21 to March 15, 2013, Anderson lied to federal agents concerning his knowledge of the whereabouts of two vehicles Maddox had purchased with the illegal proceeds of his drug dealings.
According to the charging documents and information presented in court, Anderson knew where Maddox's Yukon Denali sport utility vehicle was located, but repeatedly denied this fact to DEA and HSI agents. Anderson further lied to law enforcement about his participation in moving the Denali, which was ultimately recovered at the residence of Anderson's law partner. Court records also show that Anderson initially lied to federal agents about possessing another one of Maddox's vehicles, a classic Chevrolet Chevelle. Anderson later admitted to law enforcement that he had in fact possessed the Chevelle but then lied about the location from where he had obtained the vehicle.
Harry S. Sommers, the Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division commented, "Drug trafficking often leads to morally debased actions of those involved, which was the case during this investigation. This attorney was licensed to practice law, but this does not mean that he was above the law. Now, the full measure of the justice system will appropriately deal with his criminal actions. This investigation would have not been possible without the collaborative efforts of our local, state and federal law enforcement counterparts."
"Lawyers are officers of the court, sworn to protect the law and adhere to a professional code of ethics. Anderson's actions were illegal, unethical but most importantly compromised the integrity of our legal system. Any attorney who puts personal gain above professional responsibility has no business practicing law," said U.S. Attorney Tompkins.
"Mr. Anderson overstepped his role as a zealous advocate for his client, which led him afoul of the law," said Brock D. Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations in Georgia and the Carolinas. "By lying to federal investigators, Mr. Anderson betrayed his responsibilities as an officer of the court and will pay a heavy price for his malfeasance."
Anderson has been released on bond. At sentencing, he faces a maximum prison term of five years, a $250,000 fine, or both. A sentencing date has not yet been set.
The case was investigated jointly by the DEA and HSI. The prosecution is being handled for the government by Assistant U.S. Attorney J. George Guise of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of North Carolina in Charlotte, upon recusal of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of South Carolina.
The DEA 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.justthinktwice.com, www.GetSmartAboutDrugs.com and www.dea.gov.