An Horry County Council candidate was arrested Tuesday for accepting a bribe from an undercover police officer after asking for money to drop out of the county council race, according to a police report.
Richard Withington, 72, of Myrtle Beach is charged with inducement to file for, or withdraw from, candidacy for election, according to J. Reuben Long Detention Center records. He was given a $10,000 bond Wednesday afternoon and no-contact orders from several of the victims.
Judge Aaron Butler awarded Withington bond after his attorney, Greg McCollum, asked for a personal recognizance bond. McCollum said Withington served several years in the military and is very active in the Myrtle Beach community, therefore he is not a flight risk.
“As far as a flight risk, I think he ranks as high as you can rank on both of those scales, and I think accordingly he’d be a candidate for ... bond,” McCollum said.
Butler said Withington’s past criminal history is reason enough for a bond, but according to S.C. State Law Enforcement Division records he does not have any past offenses.
McCollum said Withington should give a public statement within the next few days, but he wanted to give his client a few days to “sleep on it.”
On Monday, an Horry County police officer was assigned Withington’s case after he attempted to have four victims pay him $20,000 to drop out of the race for Horry County Council District 4, police said.
During the investigation on Monday, police had a 66-year-old male victim contact Withington, according to the report. Gary Loftus, incumbent District 4 councilman, said he did not want to comment since the investigation is ongoing.
When Withington called the victim back, the victim arranged for undercover police to contact Withington.
The undercover officer talked to Withington who said he wanted $20,000 from the victim, but said he would take $5,000 as his share from the victim instead, police said.
Authorities made arrangements to meet Withington at 12:20 p.m. Tuesday to get the money, and the undercover officer arrived at the agreed-upon location with an envelope of $5,000, according to the report.
The Horry County police report contains redacted information involving the details of meeting and how money changed hands, but notes that Withington was arrested during that meeting, and an arrest warrant states Withington accepted the money.
Withington was running for Gary Loftus’ Horry County Council seat and Stephen Goldfinch’s state Senate seat.
When Judge Butler asked if he understood his charges, Withington said he “understands the basics.”