Ex Columbia Police Chief Randall Scott pleads guilty
United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today, Aug. 7, that Randall G. Scott, 50, of Richland County, has entered a guilty plea in federal court to possession of a firearm by an unlawful user of a controlled substance. Senior United States District Judge Terry L. Wooten of Columbia accepted the guilty plea and will impose sentence after he has received and reviewed a sentencing report that will be prepared by the United States Probation Office.
Evidence presented to the court established that on December 4, 2017, Richland County deputies arrived at Old Hopkins Road and Garners Ferry Road in Richland County in reference to a subject sleeping behind the wheel of a vehicle while the vehicle was running and in drive on the roadway. The deputies made contact with the driver, who was asleep behind the wheel. After waking the driver, deputies smelled alcohol coming from the vehicle. The deputies then asked the driver for his driver’s license. The driver stated he did not have one. Officers discovered his license was suspended. The driver was then arrested.
Deputies searched the vehicle and discovered a loaded Glock Model 27 pistol in the center armrest of the vehicle. A DNA test indicated that the driver’s DNA was on the pistol. Also inside of the vehicle, deputies discovered a small black bag in an open space under the radio. Inside of the bag, deputies discovered a clear bag with a rock-like substance in it, which was suspected crack cocaine. Deputies also discovered several small bindles of suspected heroin.
Deputies discovered that the vehicle was registered to Randall Scott. Scott was contacted and asked why his vehicle was in the driver’s possession. Scott’s response was he did not know, but he would find out.
Thereafter, ATF agents interviewed the driver. The driver stated Scott gave the Glock firearm found in the vehicle to him for his protection. The driver admitted that he sold drugs and that the drugs in the car were his. During subsequent interviews, the driver admitted to using cocaine and methamphetamine with Scott. The driver pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime and is cooperating with the Government. He admitted that he and Scott used drugs together and that he has seen Scott with drugs.
On April 2, 2018, Scott was taken to the hospital for a medical condition. His medical records indicated that he tested positive for cocaine, amphetamine, and opiates. His records indicate he was diagnosed with an illness which was related to cocaine abuse and methamphetamine abuse.
On July 18, 2018, the U.S. Marshals executed an arrest warrant at Scott’s house looking for a fugitive. During the execution of the search warrant, they found a large number of guns in the house. They also found a small amount of methamphetamine. One of the persons in the house, identified in court records as J.O., told the officers that she and Scott had just done methamphetamine before the police arrived and that Scott had more methamphetamine on him before the police entered the house. The police obtained the surveillance video from inside of the house, and it appears that Scott and J.O. had entered a bedroom just before the police entered. J.O. then came out and started to clean the house, saw the police, and alerted everyone. Scott is seen pulling a gun out of his waistband and running through the house with the gun. He entered another room where it is believed that he disposed of the drugs. Later, when he was being taken to jail, he admitted that he had used both cocaine and methamphetamine in the past. The police found multiple guns during the search of his house. One of the guns belonged to the City of Columbia. It was issued to Scott while he was Chief of Police, and he did not return it.
On February 25, 2019, J.O. was interviewed again by ATF. She told the agents she met Scott in 2017. They did ice and heroin together. She stated that they did ice together about 1-2 times a week for a year. She also stated she had seen Scott using heroin, ice and cocaine in the past.
The maximum penalty Scott faces for this charge is 10 years in federal prison and/or a fine of $250,000.
The case was investigated by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Marshals Service, and Richland County Sheriff’s Department. It was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
Assistant United States Attorneys William K. Witherspoon and T. DeWayne Pearson of the Columbia are prosecuting the case.