Saying he was embarrassed and humbled, former Abbeville County Sheriff Charles Goodwin pleaded guilty Friday to misconduct in office.
“I’m sorry for my actions. No excuses. I had a lapse of judgment and it was wrong,” said Goodwin, holding back tears.
Initially, Goodwin, 61, was scheduled to be arraigned in Greenville County court. But his attorney Chad Jenkins told Judge Lawton McIntosh that his client wanted to plead guilty.
“He messed up. He knows it,” Jenkins told McIntosh.
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Jenkins also said there was no plea bargain – that his client wanted to do the right thing.
“That’s why we’re here today,” he said.
Goodwin was accused of taking kickbacks on repairs on county vehicles and using a state inmate to do work for the sheriff and his friends.
McIntosh sentenced Goodwin to 10 years in prison, then suspended the sentence and placed him on probation for five years. He also ordered Goodwin to pay nearly $4,500 in restitution and ordered him to conduct 100 hours of community service.
“It’s a sad day,” said McIntosh, but added, “You violated the public trust.”
Goodwin had been sheriff since 1988. He resigned earlier this week.
Prosecutors said Goodwin had county vehicles serviced at a body shop from January 1998 to November 2011 and took a share of the money the county was paying for the repairs.
They also said Goodwin used inmates to repair cars for himself and his family members.
Goodwin had just begun his seventh term as sheriff.