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Former lawmaker Thad Viers to appear in court

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MEG KINNARD
Associated Press

A former South Carolina lawmaker is scheduled to appear in federal court next week on charges that he helped a businessman hide assets, then lied about it to federal agents.

Court records show that Thad Viers' arraignment is set for Thursday in Florence. The 36-year-old Myrtle Beach Republican faces 14 charges including money laundering, fraud and lying to an IRS agent and faces decades in prison if convicted.

Viers was indicted earlier this month, accused of a role in hiding assets of a businessman who defaulted on a multi-million paving contract for Interstate 95 in South Carolina. Prosecutors say Viers helped out Marlon Weaver, who owned a paving company and failed to uphold a contract to pave part of I-95.

The default cost an insurance company $6 million, and the company went looking for assets Weaver had to pay back some of the money it lost, prosecutors have said.

Weaver listed ownership in a marina and several investments when he was given the contract. Viers helped move those assets to Weaver's daughters, and Weaver backdated the paperwork so it looked like the money was transferred before the default, according to indictments.

Viers also lied and told the IRS agent that Weaver never told him he was trying to hide the assets, the government says.

Weaver pleaded guilty to money laundering in July 2013, and his sentencing has been delayed while he cooperates with prosecutors. A lawyer listed for Viers didn't immediately respond to a message Friday seeking comment.

Viers, who served in the state House from 2003 until 2012, was seen as a rising political star, even after a 2007 no-contest plea to illegal communication for threats made to a man who was dating a woman who was Viers' estranged wife at that time. Viers' attorney at the time, fellow state Rep. Todd Rutherford, said that charge was an attempt to get back at Viers, who acted "under the influence of love."

Viers' 2012 campaign for South Carolina's newly created 7th Congressional District seat was derailed when a former girlfriend went to police with a three-ring binder detailing dozens of phone calls, texts and emails from Viers after she told him she didn't want to speak to him again.

Viers resigned from the state House after his arrest and pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment in January, sentenced to serve a 60-day jail sentence on weekends.

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