A judge Wednesday denied a special prosecutor’s motion to reconsider the sentence of former state Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, who entered a guilty plea in the ongoing State House corruption probe.
Circuit Court Judge Carmen Mullen also ripped into special prosecutor David Pascoe’s request that she excuse herself from the Quinn case because of missteps that Pascoe said she made in sentencing the former Lexington state representative.
In February, Mullen sentenced Quinn to one year of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $1,000 fine, a sentence that Pascoe said was not tough enough.
“This was going to be a golden opportunity for the state of South Carolina, in a public corruption case, to send the most corrupt legislator up there to prison for up to a year,” Pascoe argued at a subsequent hearing, asking Mullen to give the former House majority leader a tougher sentence.
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However, in her order, Mullen said, in effect, that Pascoe botched his case. If he wanted a tougher sentence, he should have taken Quinn to trial and not accepted “a plea agreement that is of his own making,” the judge wrote.
In December, Quinn resigned from the House and entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor count of misconduct in office for failing to disclose payments that the University of South Carolina made to a company related to Quinn.
At that hearing, the special prosecutor made an extensive presentation alleging a wider pattern of misconduct by Quinn and his father, Richard Quinn, whose political strategy and consulting firm entered a guilty plea to failing to register as a lobbyist and, subsequently, was fined $2,500.
Pascoe alleged Rick Quinn, while a legislator, made millions by secretly working on behalf of the high-profile business clients of his father’s company. Those clients had business before the Legislature.
But, in her order, Mullen said Pascoe knew that Quinn, by the terms of his plea deal, denied “every allegation and inference beyond (his) limited admission.”
That limited admission, Mullen wrote, left her with little choice but to sentence Quinn “according to the evidence the court found reliable and relevant.”
“Critical to the state’s case was Quinn Jr.’s involvement in Richard Quinn & Associates, which Quinn Jr. adamantly denies,” Mullen wrote in a her order. “While Solicitor Pascoe presented documents and emails suggesting this involvement of Quinn Jr. with RQA, I am not persuaded to extrapolate the solicitor’s inferences to establish such a relationship. What the state presented in its Powerpoint are inferences and conclusions that this court is not compelled to accept as established facts. This is what the state needed to prove in a trial.”
Pascoe also said Mullen and defense attorneys had engaged in improper communications — an allegation the judge called “patently false.”
“Solicitor Pascoe’s comments impugning the character of both the court and defense counsel casts a pall on the judicial process in an unfortunate attempt to vacate a plea agreement that is of his own making,” Mullen wrote in her order.