A candidate for Sheriff of Oconee County accused of plotting the kidnapping of a retired judge called the allegations flat out false during a forum Thursday evening.
According to 10th Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams, James Bartee, 54, of Seneca, was arrested in Anderson and charged with solicitation to commit a felony after an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.
Adams said Bartee was recorded trying to solicit someone to kidnap retired Circuit Court Judge James Williams Jr.
According to a warrant, Bartee gave money to the person he asked to kidnap Williams in order to buy items that would aid in the commission of the crime.
Williams has filed a lawsuit questioning the eligibility of Bartee for the office of sheriff.
Bartee was released from jail on bond Thursday morning. After the hearing, Bartee said his arrest was politically motivated and that the tactic will not succeed in removing him from the race.
On Thursday night, Bartee told a packed house at a candidate forum that he was not involved in any kidnapping plot.
"The criminal charges filed against me on Wednesday are false," Bartee exclaimed.
Some who attended the forum said they are not surprised by the craziness of the race for sheriff.
"In politics? Not so much," said Ginne Baltzer, who attended the forum. "It doesn't shock me."
"I tell you, it's just coming to a head," said Lee Horace Quarles, another attendee.
Bartee said that even if he is not elected, he will clear his name.
"I will continue this good fight to my last breath," Bartee said. "I'm going to do it for you."
Bartee is one of four Republican candidates seeking the nomination in the June 12 primary. Terry Wilson, Michael Crenshaw and Donnie Fricks are also seeking the nomination.
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