S.C. Supreme Court reprimands ex-judge

The S.C. Supreme Court has publicly reprimanded former Lee County Magistrate Alston Wesley Woodham for his role in ticket-fixing incidents, according to a decision announced late Monday.

"Ticket-fixing constitutes improper ex parte (third party) communication and severely undermines the public's confidence in a fair and impartial judicial system," the court wrote.

Woodham, who admitted to misconduct, was involved in incidents that involved alleged ticket-fixing for people who take truckloads of garbage to the Lee County landfill and exceed weight limits, the decision said.

Woodham told judicial misconduct investigators that about five times a year, a state lawmaker - not identified in court papers - approached him for "help" on tickets issued by the State Transport police. Woodham then admitted contacting the officers to see whether "help" was available.

A high county official and members of the public also contacted the magistrate seeking "help" with tickets.

In one case, a $3,905 weight ticket issued by the State Transport police was later marked "not guilty" in the magistrate's court, the decision said.

The decision did not give details and left questions about the matter unanswered, such as the identify of the state lawmaker who asked the magistrate for "help."

- John Monk

Suspect charged with sexually assault of girl

Camden police have arrested a 17-year-old high school student and charged him with the sexual assault of a 9-year-old girl.

Howard Harper, of 505 King St., is charged with criminal sexual conduct of a minor younger than 11.

He remains in a local jail pending a bond hearing.

- John Monk

Armed robber steals OxyContin

A gun-wielding robber held up a Columbia Walgreens drugstore early Monday morning and made off with a batch of the highly addictive prescription painkiller OxyContin.

A man approached the pharmacy counter in the rear of the Walgreens store at 4467 Devine St. about 1:20 a.m. The suspect then lifted his jacket to show a pistol and presented a note demanding OxyContin, Columbia police said.

The man then fled on foot toward Beltline Boulevard with the stolen OxyContin, police said.

The suspect was described as between 20 and 30 years old, about six feet tall, 135 pounds, and white.

At the time of the crime, he was wearing a black jacket, black hat, black shoes and blue jeans.

OxyContin, a widely prescribed painkiller, is one of the most abused prescription drugs, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.

It is known under various nicknames, including Hillbilly Heroin, kicker, OX, and blue.

Police did not reveal how much OxyContin was stolen.

- John Monk

Purse, car stolen at funeral home visitation

GREENVILLE - Police say a man took a purse from a funeral home during the visitation for a former police chief, then stole a car from the parking lot.

An officer working security at former Greenville Police Chief David Bridges' visitation Saturday saw a suspicious man get into a car and erratically drive away. At the same time, a woman reported her purse had been stolen from the funeral home.

The officer followed the car, which crashed into a light pole a short distance away.

Police linked the stolen purse to the wrecked car, and charged 48-year-old Lucien Howard of Wellford with burglary, grand larceny, driving under the influence and other charges.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Howard had an attorney, and no phone listing for him could be found.

- The Associated Press