CHESTER COUNTY, S.C. — Filing for candidates participating in November’s election – closed Monday at noon.
CN2 News learned despite facing federal charges, former Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood is seeking re-election on the democratic ticket as sheriff.
Underwood was suspended from his position by the governor last May and his case is still pending trial.
According to South Carolina law, a person running for sheriff can’t have a conviction or have pleaded guilty to a felony crime, but Underwood is still awaiting trial and as of right now, he’s not convicted of the crimes he’s charged with.
“The South Carolina Democratic Party will be following the statue regarding candidate certification and the statute says if you are convicted of a felony, you are not eligible to run or office,” Tim Sullivan with the SC Democratic Party said.
Sullivan says Underwood can’t be prohibited from seeking re-election as long as he is not convicted.
Underwood faces several federal charges that lay out a conspiracy to cover up an unlawful arrest, use of excessive force and financial fraud.
Underwood was elected as Chester County’s Sheriff in 2012 and re-elected in 2016, before being indicted and suspended in 2019.
Our station made several phone calls and wrote emails to see if Underwood can actually run.
The director of Chester County Elections and Registrations says their system checked out Underwood and as long as he doesn’t come up as a convicted felon, he is allowed to file for re-election.
U.S. Attorney Peter McCoy Junior Sent CN2 News the following statement:
“As in any federal criminal case, the indictment speaks for itself, and this case will continue forward pursuant to the schedule set by the district judge.”
The former sheriff was supposed to go on trial in April.
A representative for the US Attorney’s Office in South Carolina says because of the COVID19 outbreak, Underwood’s trial has been moved to August.
CN2 also reached out to Underwood’s attorney, Stanley Myers, for comment, but he has not responded yet.
If Underwood changes his mind about going to trial and chooses to enter a plea deal instead, the judge entered an order that would require him to plead before June 30th to get the full benefits of entering a plea deal, which includes a possibility of serving a shorter sentence.
Chester County’s current Sheriff Max Dorsey who was appointed by the governor after Underwood’s suspension has also filed as the republican candidate for Chester County Sheriff.
Across South Carolina, 534 Republican candidates filed for office, compared to 465 Democrats.