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Former sheriff appears in court

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Jason Booth in court. Jason Booth in court.

Former Saluda County Sheriff Jason Booth appeared in a Richland County courtroom Thursday afternoon to answer to charges of misconduct in office.

Booth resigned from office last week after a Grand Jury indicted him on those charges. He's accused of using an inmate for work on his private property during a period of almost six years.

A judge granted Booth a $10,000 personal recognizance bond.

He left the courtroom without talking to reporters.

According to Second Circuit Solicitor J. Strom Thurmond, the indictment alleges that Booth used the services of an inmate on loan to Saluda County from the South Carolina Department of Corrections to assist in building, constructing, and working on his private property in Saluda County between January 1, 2006 and October 28, 2011.   

The use of this inmate for Booth's personal gain, according to the indictment, breached his duties to the public of good faith, honesty, and accountability.

Governor Haley on Tuesday signed an order appointing Luther Harris Nossett Jr. of Batesburg-Leesville to the post.

There was little hesitation from the Fairfax County, Virginia retiree when the call came Friday asking him to take the reins in Saluda County under a less than ideal situation.

"I have a lot of training and experience that was paid for by citizens along the way in my prior careers," said Nossett.  "It's just an opportunity to return some of that to a community that might need my services."

Since his appointment, he's been a calming force, both for deputies and the community in the stress and anxiety that's come with Booth's investigation.

"Last week was extremely hard," said Chief Deputy W.R. Freeman.  "This week has not been as near as hard. The transition, like I said, it was very smooth."

Nossett's no stranger to Saluda County.  He volunteered as a reserve on cold cases and criminal investigations for several years.

"He knows how the day to day operations work," said Freeman. "He helped us with a lot of investigations, some very big burglary investigations."

Now, the former major and Boeing Security official is working his way through the department, one employee at a time.

"My intentions within the next couple of weeks, as soon as I can get to each of them,  is to meet with every employee in a one on one to give them the opportunity to express any idea or concern or ask any questions that they might have," said Nossett.

The goal, continue serving the community, while laying the foundation for the next sheriff in November.

"I believe the majority of the community trusts the deputies here and the staff," said Nossett. "The actions of one individual do not taint the entire organization."

Over the next several weeks Nossett will continue to meet with members of the county council and administration to let them know what's going on within the sheriff's office.

Republican Pat Griffith and Democrat John C. Perry will face off in November for the seat vacated by Booth. Both won their respective primaries on June 12th.

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

sidebar: Booth resignation

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Click here to read Jason Booth's resignation letter

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