March 30, 2023
The attorney for a former Orangeburg officer says his client accidentally burned evidence room money.
Former Orangeburg Department of Public Safety Lt. Carl Wayne Shultz is charged with misconduct in office.
The St. Matthews man's jury trial got underway on Tuesday at the Orangeburg County Courthouse.
The alleged crime took place sometime between September and December 2018, when $17,167.58 went missing from the ODPS evidence room, which Shultz supervised.
In opening arguments, Shultz's attorney, Scott Lee, told the jury that his client was acting in his professional capacity when he accidentally burned thousands of dollars that had been collected as evidence.
Lee claims that because Shultz's actions were due to an accident, he shouldn't be found guilty of misconduct in office.
The case is being tried by 14th Circuit Deputy Solicitor Sean Thornton at the request of 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe.
One of the state's witnesses was Deb Byrd, who had been the evidence custodian for 16 years. She's since retired.
She said that ODPS was notified by the 1st Circuit Solicitor's Office in October 2018 that $4,500, which had been collected during an arrest, needed to be given back to the defendant because the case had ended.
When Byrd checked the evidence bin designated for currency collection, the cash was there.
Eventually, after a series of phone calls, the owner of the money was scheduled to get it back from ODPS at 11 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2019. The owner lived in Charlotte, N.C.
Before the owner arrived, ODPS scheduled a burn of old evidence for Dec. 6, 2018.
Byrd testified that she and Shultz would purge evidence from cases that had ended a couple of times a year. They did it with the help of other officers.
She usually handled the no-longer-needed evidence, which had been kept in brown envelopes, and placed them in cardboard boxes. She'd then seal the boxes and label them "destroy box."
The boxes were then taken to a metal dumpster and burned.
Currency was always kept in white envelopes in a separate bin from other evidence, she said.
But in the Dec. 6 purge, Shultz collected the old evidence himself, then he and another officer burned the evidence in a dumpster, Byrd said.
Byrd said it was unusual for her not to collect the old evidence and attend the burning.
On Jan. 9, 2019, about an hour before ODPS was supposed to return $4,500 to its rightful owner, Shultz told Byrd that it accidentally got burned back on Dec. 6, 2018, Byrd testified.
"I went ballistic," Byrd said.
"I started crying," she added.
"Calm down, calm down," she recalled Shultz saying to her.
"Have you told anybody? Have you told Col. (Ed) Conner or (then) Chief Mike Adams?" she asked him.
She claims Shultz never told his supervisors what happened.
The S.C. Law Enforcement Division conducted audits of the evidence room.
Byrd testified that during the audit, SLED discovered there were allegedly 21 files which had last been modified by Shultz which had currency missing.
Shultz allegedly couldn't give proper accounting as to how other money went missing from the evidence room, according to a statement given by Adams following Shultz's arrest.
One of the state's other witnesses, retired City of Orangeburg finance director Carrie Johnson, testified that Shultz was having other deductions taken from his paychecks aside from the usual ones for taxes, Social Security, life insurance, health insurance and others.
For the year, Shultz paid $450 for a loan repayment, $57.13 toward a loan repayment from his 401K and $19,100 to a bankruptcy court.
In additional deductions alone, Shultz's annual salary of $61,373.29 was slashed by about one-third.
His attorney had asked the court not to allow testimony about Shultz's personal financial situation during the trial, but Circuit Judge Diane Goodstein overruled it.
Lee told the jury that Shultz had already served his notice that he would retire in early 2019, prior to getting charged.
Lee also told the jury that the SLED investigation tried to "fit a round peg into a square hole" and had to come up with some charge for Shultz, who's pleaded not guilty to the charge.
Shultz's trial isn't expected to last past Wednesday.