Thad Viers, a former state representative from Horry County and a one-time front-runner for this area’s newly-created 7th Congressional District seat, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on 14 felony charges related to helping an associate hide assets in a road construction project.
The indictment, filed Thursday, accuses Viers of 12 counts of engaging in monetary transactions involving proceeds from criminal activities and one charge of money laundering. Viers also is accused of making false statements to an IRS criminal investigator.
The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 145 years in prison. Viers, 36, is scheduled for an arraignment hearing at 10:30 a.m. Aug. 28 at the federal courthouse in Florence.
Viers could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
According to the indictment, Viers helped Marlon Weaver — owner of construction and paving company Weaver Co. Inc. —hide assets from Safeco Insurance Co. of America related to a paving project on I-95.
Safeco issued a surety bond on the project but required Weaver to reimburse the company if it suffered any losses. After Weaver defaulted on the I-95 contract, he backdated documents to make it appear as if he had previously transferred his interests in a marina and an investment company to his daughters, according to the indictment.
Weaver then mailed those documents to Safeco, the indictment states. Weaver previously pleaded guilty to money laundering charges but has not been sentenced. Safeco lost $6 million because of Weaver’s default.
The indictment states that Viers, a former attorney, made 12 withdrawals totaling $524,000 from his law firm’s trust account between Jan. 27, 2011 and Oct. 4, 2011. Viers knew the money he was withdrawing came from Weaver’s illegal activities, according to the indictment.
The indictment also states that Viers conspired with Weaver and former Baptist preacher Archie Evans between September 2009 and October 2011 to help Weaver hide assets from Safeco.
Evans was sentenced last months to seven years in prison for running a Ponzi scheme that stole money from Tilly Swamp Baptist Church parishioners and others. Evans’ investment company, Gold & Silver LLC, is where Weaver hid some of his money, according to the indictment.
Viers also lied to an IRS investigator during a March 2 interview by claiming not to have any knowledge that Weaver was trying to hide assets from Safeco when, in fact, “Viers had agreed to assist Weaver in doing so,” according to the indictment.
Viers is a 1995 graduate of Socastee High School and a 2007 graduate of the University of South Carolina School of Law. He was a district field representative for former U.S. Congressman Henry Brown before winning the 2002 election for the District 68 seat in the state’s House of Representatives. Viers, a Republican, was re-elected four times and ran for the newly created District 7 seat in the U.S. Congress in 2012.
Viers has had prior run-ins with the law, including one that derailed his run for the U.S. Congress. In January 2012, Viers was arrested on charges that he harassed a 28-year-old woman who was his ex-girlfriend. Viers dropped out of the 7th District race shortly after the arrest. Viers was suspended from his law practice in April 2012.
Earlier this year, Viers was sentenced in the harassment case to 60 days in jail to be served on weekends. Prosecutors dropped a stalking charge as part of a plea deal and a first-degree burglary charge also was dismissed, although prosecutors have the right to reinstate the charge if Viers bothers the woman again.
In 2006, Viers was charged with threatening to beat up a man who was dating his estranged wife. Viers pleaded no contest in that case and paid a $500 fine. Viers’ lawyer in that case explained his client’s behavior by saying Viers was “under the influence of love.”