January 31, 2013

Ex-Myrtle Beach area legislator Viers indicted on burglary, larceny charges stemming from former girlfriend’s complaint

Former state representative Thad Viers is facing his second indictment in a year, both related to an investigation involving his former girlfriend.

Former state representative Thad Viers is facing his second indictment in a year, both related to an investigation involving his former girlfriend.

Viers was indicted Thursday by an Horry County Grand Jury on first-degree burglary and petty larceny charges, according to a press release from Fourth Circuit Solicitor Will Rogers.

The charges stem from a March 20, 2012 incident in Myrtle Beach.

The Myrtle Beach lawmaker was arrested last January, accused of stalking and harassing his ex-girlfriend and was indicted on those charges that month.

Now Viers is accused of burglarizing his ex-girlfriend’s home off Brewster Drive, according to a March 20, 2012 Myrtle Beach police report. The woman told police she came home to find items moved out of place and others missing.

The stolen items included a cellphone, a computer and a handgun, police said.

“My client maintains his innocence on these charges as well as the previous charges,” said Dylan Goff, the Columbia-based attorney representing Viers. “I haven’t seen all of the evidence the state claims to have, but I look forward to seeing that evidence and I look forward to my client being vindicated.”

Authorities say the charges are part of the same case that led to Viers' arrest in January 2012. According to police, the 34-year-old called, texted, emailed and showed up at his ex-girlfriend's home months after they broke up and didn't stop after police contacted him.

Viers initially said he wouldn't resign his state House seat after that arrest, calling the accusations "a politically motivated matter over a few love letters." After his arrest, Viers said he and the woman had dated for four years and that she had turned down his marriage proposal a month earlier.

But the woman told police she repeatedly asked the lawmaker to stop contacting her, saying she was reluctant to press charges because she didn't want to hurt his political career. Ultimately, she presented police with a three-ring binder detailing the calls, emails and texts. In December 2011, a detective asked Viers to stop calling the woman, but he didn't, according to a police report.

After his arrest, Viers quickly abandoned a bid for South Carolina's new 7th Congressional District. He quit the Legislature a day before his March indictment on stalking and harassment charges, saying he needed to focus on his defense.

The state Supreme Court suspended Viers' law license in April.

The new charges came nearly four years after Viers, first elected to the Legislature in 2002, pleaded no contest to threatening to beat and sexually assault a man dating his estranged wife. In that case, he paid a $500 fine for unlawful communication.

Kernard Redmond, deputy solicitor for the Fourth Judicial Circuit, said Viers will likely be arraigned on the indictments next week but did not have a specific day or time.

Redmond said the Fourth Circuit, based out of Chesterfield, was appointed by the state Attorney General’s office to prosecute the case because of a possible conflict of interest between Viers, the victim and the 15th Circuit Solicitor’s office, which covers Horry and Georgetown counties. He would not elaborate on the nature of the potential conflict.

Goff said Viers remains on administrative suspension through the S.C. Bar Association pending resolution of the charges. He said that suspension is not a reflection of his innocence or guilt and is merely a formality.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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