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Ex-sheriff sentenced to nearly 4 years for corruption, fraud

Ex Sheriff Sentenced
Jeffrey Collins/AP
FILE - Suspended Chester County Sheriff Alex Underwood, second from right, and his lawyer, Stanley Myers, far right, walk out of the courtroom following a bond hearing after Underwood was indicted on state charges of embezzlement and misconduct in office on Jan. 9, 2020, at the Richland County Courthouse in Columbia, South Carolina. The former Chester County sheriff convicted of abuse power and other charges was sentenced Monday, July 11, 2022 to nearly 4 years in prison. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

A former Chester County sheriff convicted of abuse power and other charges was sentenced Monday to nearly 4 years in prison.

WSOC-TV reports that in April 2021, Alex Underwood was also convicted of stealing money from government programs, unlawfully arresting a man, and of wire fraud.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents began investigating Underwood after he jailed a man for three days for no reason after the man recorded the aftermath of a police chase and wreck that happened near his home. Underwood created a false police report that said the man stepped out of his yard into the public roadway and cursed at police, according to indictments.

FBI agents would later find Underwood skimmed overtime meant for his deputies, used taxpayer money to fly first-class to a Las Vegas conference with his wife and then tried to cover up that she went and had on-duty deputies work to build a party barn at his home, even pulling officers away from drug stakeouts, prosecutors said.

A judge sentenced Underwood to 46 months in federal prison.

Two of Underwood's deputies were also convicted. Former Chester Chief Deputy Robert Andrew Sprouse was sentenced to 24 months in prison on federal corruption charges. Former Deputy Johnny Neal received 46 months.