Gov. Nikki Haley's office suspended Simpsonville mayor Perry Eichor on Wednesday after he was indicted on several charges.
In a news conference Wednesday, 13th judicial circuit solicitor Walt Wilkins said the alleged abuse of power took place in March 2014, involving a city case whose outcome is still pending.
Eichor was arrested in April 2014 and the State Law Enforcement Division began collecting evidence, which was presented to a grand jury in Greenville County on Tuesday, Wilkins said.
The grand jury signed the indictments, charging Eichor with obstruction of justice, intimidation of a court official, and misconduct in office.
"The evidence alleges that as mayor, Eichor tried to impede a city judge and affect his ability to rule on a specific case," Wilkins said.
According to the indictments, Eichor implicitly threatened the judge's employment status as it relating to the outcome of the ruling of the case.
"As the mayor of Simpsonville, he could materially affect the judge's employment," Wilkins said. "City judges have two-year contracts. Eichor could also affect whether judge received a paycheck or not, because it comes from city council, which the mayor is the head of."
Wilkins said he's taking the case very seriously, because the allegations threaten the sanctity of the legal process.
"Our legal process is one of the things our country was founded on," Wilkins said. "Our judges have to be impartial. They can't be influenced at any level: in city court, state court, all the way up to the Supreme Court."
Wilkins said the case will likely to go to trial within the next six to nine months.
Wilkins said the obstruction of justice and misconduct in office charges are misdemeanors, but intimidating a court official is a felony offense. If convicted, Eichor faces up to 10 years in jail.
Gov. Nikki Haley's office released the executive order suspending Eichor to the media on Wednesday afternoon.
The order takes effect immediately. According to the city's code of ordinances, the mayor pro tempore will act as mayor, which is council member Geneva Lawrence .
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Friday, August 29 2014 6:57 PM EDT2014-08-29 22:57:37 GMT
(Source: Roland Cooper State Park-Alabama/Facebook)
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