GREENVILLE, S.C. (WCBD) – Suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis will learn his fate today.
He will be sentenced after a jury found him guilty of misconduct in office for using his power and public resources to have an affair with a personal assistant.
Jurors reached the verdict on Thursday just after 10:30 p.m. and found him guilty of one count of statutory misconduct of a public officer.
Lewis faces up to one year in prison.
JURORS FIND LEWIS GUILTY
Formerly suspended Greenville County Sheriff Will Lewis will be removed from office after a jury unanimously found him guilty of misconduct of a public officer. He is facing up to a year in jail.
The jury found Lewis not guilty of misconduct in office. Their decision came after nearly five hours of deliberation Thursday on the fourth day of the trial.
Lewis was accused of misusing his position and County resources to pursue an affair with his former assistant, Savannah Nabors.
The judge allowed Lewis to go home Thursday night but ordered him to reappear at the courthouse at 10 a.m. Friday for sentencing.
16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett, who prosecuted the case, declined to comment Thursday after the jury reached their decision. Nabors also declined to comment on the verdict.
Lewis’ attorney, Rauch Wise, did not say if they will appeal.
A special election will be held in November to fill the position of Greenville County Sheriff.
What happened in Charlotte in 2017 between suspended Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis and his assistant on a business trip was at the center of Wednesday’s proceedings as Lewis took the stand in his own defense.
Lewis faces criminal charges and stands accused of using a taxpayer-funded trip to have an extramarital affair with his assistant Savanah Nabors.
Nabors on Tuesday testified she was sexually assaulted by Lewis on the trip to Charlotte in 2017.
On Wednesday, Lewis described what happened as consensual.
Ultimately, it’s two charges of misconduct in office that this jury is considering.
The state said he used public funds to plan the out of state trip to have the affair.
On the stand Wednesday, Lewis admitted what he did was wrong but it wasn’t misconduct.
Lewis’ defense attorneys asked him how the incident in Charlotte impacted him.
Lewis told the jury it gave him an opportunity to reflect on things.
“One of which and the most important was my relationship with God,” said Lewis. “It took a lot for me to come to grips with…with what I had done.”
With his wife visibly upset in court, Lewis said he was “far from perfect” when he had an affair with Nabors during a taxpayer-funded business trip to Charlotte, a trip he admitted during the prosecution’s cross-examination wasn’t necessary to have out of town.
Prosecutor: “You could have done your meeting that you ultimately did in Charlotte in Town Square, couldn’t you? There’s plenty of places to meet.”
Lewis: “We could have.”
Prosecutor: “You could have ordered in lunch?”
Lewis: “We could have.”
Prosecutor: “Putting yourself in this situation you basically set yourself up for failure, did you not? You set yourself up to have an affair.”
Lewis: “Looking back on it absolutely that’s what happened. At the time I did not see it.”
Lewis has admitted to the affair on multiple occasions, including in court on Wednesday, but he denied what Nabors told the jury Tuesday. She testified Lewis sexually assaulted her in her hotel room in Charlotte.
Prosecutor: “So you denied to other members of the sheriff’s department that you had an affair, correct?”
Lewis: “No. I denied that I had sexually assaulted or raped Savanah.”
Lewis: “I lied to my wife about having an affair, specifically to my wife. That does not jeopardize the integrity of the men and women of the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office that I had an affair.”
One of the last exchanges between Lewis and prosecutors came when they asked him about another trip he was trying to plan with Nabors to Reno, Nevada after the trip to Charlotte.
Prosecutor: “You were trying to manipulate her to do that weren’t you?”
Lewis: “I was trying to convince her to go to Reno.”
Prosecutor: “Through manipulation.”
Lewis: “I don’t think it was through manipulation but I was definitely trying to convince her to go to Reno.”
Lewis also defended how Nabors was treated as a new employee after he became sheriff. He fought back against accusations of special treatment and said based on what he was told her over $60,000 a year salary was within the range for administrative coordinators.
The car she was issued he said was warranted since she was an on-call employee.
Lewis is expected to be back on the stand Thursday at 9:30 a.m.
Attorneys said earlier this week the trial would likely come to a close on Thursday.
The State Rests
The 16th Solicitor’s Office rested earlier in the day on Wednesday after three final witnesses testified.
One of them was Maj. Ty Miller with the sheriff’s office.
Miller spoke about a recorded conversation she heard between Lewis and Nabors.
She said the two were talking about a trip to Reno, Nevada and on the tape Lewis could be heard telling Nabors it was normal for men and women in law enforcement to share hotel rooms and get undressed in front of each other.
“That we undress in front of men in law enforcement, our beat partners, that we go to the bathroom in front of our beat partners. I mean it was shocking and as she played it for me I began to think what, like, this was pure manipulation,” Miller told the jury.
Miller also talked about her concerns over Nabors, a civilian employee, and her access to crime scenes. She recalled a conversation she said she had with Lewis.
“I said to him that I was really, really concerned about the fact he had taken..brought..Savanah to the scene. That I was really concerned about the perception. I think my words were ‘I didn’t fall off the turnip truck yesterday.’ I don’t know what’s goin’ on but the perception of what’s goin’ on is not good,” she said.
The State’s star witness, Savanah Nabors, testified Tuesday.
Nabors spend four hours on the stand, breaking down in tears at times, as she detailed an alleged assault she said happened during the business trip to Charlotte with Lewis.
During cross-examination, Nabors told defense attorneys she never thought to file a police report and wasn’t sure who to report anything to at the time.
WITNESSES TAKE THE STAND
The jury is seated and the first witnesses have taken the stand as the trial began Monday for suspended Greenville Co. Sheriff Will Lewis.
Lewis is charged with misconduct in office related to a taxpayer funded trip to Charlotte where he’s alleged to have an extra-marital affair with his personal assistant, Savanah Nabors.
The first prosecution witnesses focused on drawing a comparison between Nabors’ salaries and perks and other administrative coordinators and assistants.
Nora Sullivan took the stand first. She’s been an administrative assistant with the department for more than 20 years.
Prosecutors asked: “Did anything unusual stand out to you in regard to (Nabors’) hiring and employment? Was it done how it typically is done?
Sullivan answered: “No. I think she was already hired.”
Sullivan testified in January 2017 when Lewis became sheriff, Savana Nabors’ job was a new position created by Lewis.
With no title to give it, Sullivan said it was filed under “administrative coordinator.” That’s a title two others with over 25 years experience held at the department.
Prosecutors asked: “Do you know what Savana Nabors’ starting salary was?”
Sullivan answered: “Her yearly salary was $62,000.”
Sullivan said a new deputy made roughly $30,000 a year depending on experience, a lieutenant with 23 years of experience made roughly $63,000 a year, and a sergeant with 29 years experience made $66,000 annually.
Prosecutors asked: “A sargeant who had been there 29 years had been working there longer than she had been alive?”
Sullivan said: “Basically, yes sir.”
Next on the stand was Jackie Cooper, an administrative coordinator with 30 years experience at the department. Her salary in January 2017 was roughly $54,000 annually.
She was asked about alleged perks Nabors was given by Lewis. She said she never saw perks for herself.
Prosecutors: “Did you have a cellphone or smart phone issued to you by the sheriff?”
Cooper: “No sir.”
Cooper: “No sir.”
Cooper: “No sir.”
Prosecturos: “Have you ever had a vehicle assigned to you?
Cooper: “No sir.”
Prosecutors: “”Do you have an assigned parking space?
Cooper: “No sir.”
Proscutors: “How many out of town work trips were you invited on?
Then, Master Deputy Laura Jones, who was a member of the bomb squad when Lewis hired Nabors as his personal assistant, testified her recollection of when Lewis introduced Nabors to a bomb squad meeting..
Jones: “(Lewis) said she is off limits.”
She continued: “I took it to mean that they were to stay away from her. The guys were to stay away from her.”
During cross examination, Lewis’ attorneys attempted to show Nabors’s salary was warranted for the longer hours she worked and another employee was brought on at the same time with the same salary to help restructure the department,
They also said other employees were given raises as well by Lewis.
The jury is made up of six white women, six white men, and two black men.