AG investigating affair, misconduct allegations in SCHP - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

AG investigating affair, misconduct allegations involving SCHP interim director

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Rowell would resign from the patrol in 1999. He returned in 2000.

The patrol fired Rowell in April 2008 after he "broke" and "used profanity in response to a request from Sergeant Chuck Wise for him to operate a patrol vehicle while intoxicated," according to Rowell. Wise wanted Trooper Rowell to deliver a videotape of "the arrest of a prominent Columbia politician." Wise's request came on Rowell's day off, while he was coordinating a surprise birthday party for his wife.

"I am of the opinion and personal belief that Colonel Lancaster used his authority to destroy my husband's career to exact jealous revenge against myself and him," Rowell wrote in her affidavit. The Rowell's also think Lancaster has used his position to prevent Rowell from getting another job in law enforcement.

Ali Rowell told investigators that she was willing to provide witnesses and take a polygraph to confirm her allegations. "I'm sitting here telling you this and giving up what could be my reputation because it's destroyed my husband, totally," Rowell told WIS.

In May, the Rowells hired Orangeburg private investigation firm, M and M Investigations. Investigator Danny McDaniel spent the past three and a half months piecing together evidence to prove Rowell's allegations. McDaniel confirmed to WIS that he is under contract with Rowell, "but since this case is open and active, I cannot discuss any particulars," McDaniel said.

McDaniel confirmed to WIS that his firm was under contract with another Trooper, Ken Branham, investigating allegations of "infidelity" between his wife and interim director Kenny Lancaster. McDaniel would not comment on the details of his investigation.

Branham is a Sergeant on the patrol and is married to Shannon Branham, a State Law Enforcement agent. Agent Branham was assigned as head of Governor Nikki Haley's security detail until SLED Chief Mark Keel removed her in July. Keel would not give his specific reasons for removing Branham from the security detail.

Keel admitted that he received an anonymous letter at his home, detailing the alleged affair between Branham and Lancaster. The letter came about a week before Keel removed Branham. Keel would not say whether SLED investigated the allegations, "I'm not going to comment on a personnel matter," Keel told WIS.

WIS tried contacting SLED agent Shannon Branham on her cell phone and left messages at the SLED offices for her concerning this story. Those calls were not returned.

Sources close to the investigation tell WIS that approximately 100 calls were logged between Lancaster and Shannon Branham's cell phones since April 1, 2011. WIS filed Freedom of Information Act requests with SLED and the Highway Patrol for Lancaster and Branham's cell phone records, as well as text messaging records between the pair since April 1, 2011. We've also asked the Highway Patrol for a copy of all complaint letters sent to the Office of Professional Responsibility relating to Lancaster, since Jan. 1, 2011.

As of this report, the highway patrol has not responded to our FOIA request. They've asked us to pay a fee for the records and we are currently in the process of retrieving the records. SLED has not given WIS a timeline on when their documents will be released. A response from the agency is due to us by August 29, 2011.

The AG's office does not have a timeline on when their investigation will be finished.

You can count on WIS to continue to follow this story.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.

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