State official Roland Corning out of a job after incident

abeam@thestate.comOctober 28, 2009 

Editor's note: Use link below to read an update of this story

An assistant state attorney general was stopped in his car by a Columbia police officer Monday on suspicion of illegal activity, identified himself as an employee of the attorney general's office, and was not charged with a crime.

Roland Corning, an assistant attorney general, was pulled over by officer Michael D. Wines at 3:15 p.m. Monday, according to a Columbia Police Department report.

Wines is married to Megan Wines, who also works in the attorney general's office. Wines called his wife during the incident to verify Corning's identity.

Megan Wines then reported the incident to Deputy Attorney General John McIntosh, who relayed the information to Attorney General Henry McMaster, according to Trey Walker, spokesman for McMaster's office.

Less than two hours later, Corning was no longer employed with McMaster's office, Walker said Tuesday.

Wines wrote in his report that two people were in the car - Corning and an unnamed 18-year-old female, an "employee of Platinum Plus Gentlemen's Club."

Earlier, Wines had witnessed the Ford Explorer that Corning was driving pull into a secluded portion of Elmwood Cemetery that Wines had "received past complaints in ref. to illegal activity, i.e. sex acts and drug abuse," Wines wrote in the report.

Once the occupants of the Explorer saw Wines' patrol car, the driver "attempted to make a hasty retreat, spinning the tires in the driveway and accelerating rapidly," according to the report.

By the time Wines, who had gotten out of his patrol car, made it back into his vehicle, the Explorer was gone, the report said. Wines got on the radio and asked other officers in the area to look for the Explorer, and one of the officers stopped Corning on Wayne Street, a few blocks from the cemetery.

Wines then interviewed Corning and the woman, and said they gave "conflicting statements as to why they were at the location, and to their relationship." Because of that, Wines wrote, he asked Corning some more questions, which is when Corning identified himself as an attorney and showed Wines his "state attorney general's badge."

"At that point I asked if there was anything illegal in the vehicle, which he stated no and gave consent to search," Wines wrote.

The search revealed a sex enhancement drug and some sex toys. According to the report, Corning told Wines he had a prescription for the medication and the other items were always in the car "just in case."

That's when Wines decided to release the woman, who "stated that her vehicle was around the corner where Mr. Corning met her." Moments later, Wines released Corning.

Reports of the incident first appeared on the Columbia Web site FITSnews.com.

Mike King, Columbia's assistant city manager for public safety, said he did not know the details of the incident but was scheduled to be briefed about it this morning by Columbia Police Chief Tandy Carter.

"If there is any hint of impropriety, there will be a full investigation," King said.

Columbia Mayor Bob Coble, when contacted Tuesday night and read the report, said, "I don't think the officer did anything wrong." Coble declined to comment further.

Messages left for Corning, Wines and Attorney General Henry McMaster and his staff were not returned Tuesday night.

Corning is an assistant deputy attorney general and deputy securities commissioner with the S.C. Attorney General's Office.

He is a former state lawmaker from northeast Richland County and has been active in the state's Republican Party.

He was elected in 1986 to the S.C. House of Representatives from District 79. He chose not to run again in 1994 and was appointed by the Legislature to the state Workers' Compensation Commission.

From there, he went to the state attorney general's office.

Corning is perhaps best known in the House for his work on anti-abortion initiatives.

Reach Beam at (803) 386-7038.

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