Richland Rec Commission official out on bond, suspended without pay

Richland Rec Commission official out on bond, suspended without pay

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A top manager for the troubled Richland County Recreation Commission has been suspended from his position following his arrest on drug and weapons charges.

Three of the seven drug charges filed against James Anthony Brown accuse him of distribution or possession near a school.

Investigators say Brown, who lives on Hardwood Drive in Columbia, was conducting some of his drug activities in an area near Killian Elementary School.

Acting on a tip, Richland County drug agents followed Brown after he allegedly picked up a package delivered to a house on Elders Pond Circle.

After conducting a traffic stop, agents found what they say was nearly 12 pounds of marijuana and a .380 handgun in Brown's truck.

The sheriff's department then searched Brown's home and found a variety of other drugs, paraphernalia, and an AK-47 rifle.

A short time later, they say they discovered a second package containing methamphetamine had been delivered to Brown's home.

Brown is the son of Commission Executive Director James Brown III.

The younger Brown is listed as the agency's Director of Recreation. He is one of many members of executive director Brown's family holding management positions at the Commission.

The arrest comes as the Richland County Sheriff's Department, SLED and the FBI are conducting investigations into a variety of allegations against James Brown III and others linked to the Commission.

Five lawsuits have been filed by current and former employees. The complaints cover a range of allegations from kickbacks and misuse of county resources to harassment and intimidation.

Criticism of the agency and its leadership has also prompted members of the Richland legislative delegation to call for county council oversight of the Commission's operations.

Brown, meanwhile has been suspended without pay from his position on the commission, "pending the outcome of the legal proceedings," according to a statement from the commission.

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