A S.C. lawmaker indicted as part of an ongoing State House corruption probe will go to trial in February to beat next year’s election filing deadline.
Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, faces criminal conspiracy and misconduct in office charges when his trial begins Feb. 26. That date was set Tuesday by Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen.
Quinn’s attorney, Greg Harris, said he had plenty of time to prepare a defense and his client’s constituents need the chance to vote him back into his House seat.
“We want a trial,” Harris said.
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Quinn’s trial would be the first related to special prosecutor David Pascoe’s ongoing probe. Two lawmakers have pleaded guilty to corruption charges and agreed to cooperate with the investigation — former House Speaker Bobby Harrell in 2014 and Rep. Jim Merrill in August.
Pascoe had asked Quinn be tried alongside his father, powerful political consultant Richard Quinn. The elder Quinn is facing criminal conspiracy and illegal lobbying charges.
Pascoe argued the evidence and witnesses in the cases against the Quinns was the same.
But the Quinns’ attorneys argued the men couldn’t testify against each other during the trial and the distinctions in their charges would prejudice jurors. Mullen also noted jurors might be confused by the men’s similar names.
State Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, also part of the hearing Tuesday and facing charges related to alleged campaign kickbacks, won’t go to trial as proposed in January. Courson’s attorney successfully argued she couldn’t review by then hundreds of thousands of pages of documents turned over this month from Pascoe’s ongoing investigation.
Richard Quinn’s attorney, Debbie Barbier, also asked for more time to process the latest batch of documents from Pascoe. The elder Quinn’s trial date was not yet set.
The Quinns and Courson were in the courtroom Tuesday as Mullen listened to the arguments and deadlines debated in the cases.
Courson, 72, initially had asked for a speedy trial because of his health and to more quickly return to office. He was suspended from the S.C. General Assembly after his indictment.
Courson’s attorney, Rose Mary Parham, dropped that request and said there wasn’t enough time to review what she estimated as 1.4 million pages of bank records, state police interviews, grand jury transcripts and emails before a January trial.
Parham said she would have to hire a computer expert to build a program to process the documents for Courson’s defense.
“It’s overwhelming to look through,” she told Mullen.
Six lawmakers and consultant Quinn have been indicted as part of the ongoing investigation into corruption in the General Assembly by Pascoe, the State Grand Jury, a team of solicitors and State Law Enforcement Division officers.
Rick Quinn was indicted in October on the conspiracy charge, adding to indictments from May alleging misconduct in office. Pascoe alleges Quinn took millions in secret payments from institutions and companies through his father’s consulting firm and then voted favorably on those groups’ behalf, The State newspaper reported.
Courson used campaign money to convert payments to Richard Quinn’s consulting firm into $133,000 of personal money over six years, his March indictment alleges.
The men have maintained they did nothing illegal.