Chief deputy testifies he didn't want to 'investigate his boss'

by: Greg Suskin Updated:

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CHESTERFIELD, S.C. - The corruption trial of former Chesterfield County Sheriff Sam Parker has finished its sixth full day of testimony Tuesday. 
 
Roughly 50 prosecution witnesses have taken the stand.
 
Now, the attorney general's office is one witness away from resting its case.
 
The No. 2 man in the sheriff's department, Maj. James Dixon, testified that he saw inmates William Skipper and Mike Lee driving cars, eating out and living outside the jail. 
 
One of the charges against Parker is that he allegedly gave Skipper and Lee special privileges in exchange for work they did at his home and at the sheriff's armory.
 
After becoming concerned that the situation with the inmates was illegal, Dixon said he spoke to the sheriff.
 
"So you brought that to Mr. Parker's attention?"  said Assistant Deputy Attorney General Heather Weiss.
 
"Yes ma'am," Dixon said.
 
"What was Mr. Parker's response?" Weiss said.
 
"That everything was fine," he said.
 
When defense lawyer Johnny Gasser grilled Dixon about why, as the second in command, he didn't raise the issue with anyone outside the sheriff's office, he talked about his family.
 
"Sir, I work for the sheriff. I have a family here and for me to go and start an investigation or start trouble. I got a family I have to feed also. I wasn't going to start an investigation of my boss," Dixon said.
 
In an earlier testimony last week, other deputies said the same.
 
They merely did what they were told to do, they said.  Some felt that they would be fired if they spoke up.
 
Dixon is currently running for sheriff and said he's on a leave of absence from the department for that reason.
 
Prosecutors tried to show that Parker was a hands-on sheriff who knew everything going on his department. 
 
One deputy, Patrol Lt. Spence Vaughn told the jury that was true.
 
"Oh, yeah. He was pretty knowledgeable of what was going on," Vaughn said.
 
Also Tuesday, the sheriff's personal assistant testified that she often signed the sheriff's name to department documents and checks written from the sheriff's office.  
 
Jennifer Vaughn said she had signed the sheriff's name so many times that she didn't have to practice his signature.
 
Over the past six days, the attorney general's office has called a variety of witnesses in its case against Parker. 
 
The jury has heard from numerous deputies who said they had concerns about issues at the department.