Crime & Courts

Ex-Columbia police chief Randy Scott arrested again. This time on federal charges

Former Columbia police chief Randy Scott has been arrested for the third time in less than a year, but this time he faces federal firearms charges, according to authorities.

An indictment handed down by a federal grand jury says that Scott, 50, “being an unlawful user of a controlled substance ... knowingly did possess in and affecting commerce, firearms and ammunition,” and goes on to list nearly a dozen firearms including pistols, shot guns and a rifle.

The crimes happened from Nov. 1, 2017, to July 18, 2018, according to the indictment.

The document, dated May 7, was not available early Monday. However, federal court records indicated an order was issued Monday on a motion to unseal the case, and the document was available later that day.

Scott was arrested Saturday in Florence County after deputies responded to a report of a vehicle stolen out of North Carolina that was seen at a motel near Timmonsville, according to a release from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies contacted the occupants of a room associated with the stolen vehicle, one of whom was Scott.

Deputies arrested Scott on warrants from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to the release. Details about the warrants or charges have not been made available.

“This is an ongoing investigation, so ATF will not be making comments pertaining to our investigation on Mr. Scott,” agent Gerod King, spokesman for the ATF’s Charlotte office, said in a voicemail message.

A message for the ATF’s public affairs office in Washington was not immediately returned. Messages left with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the attorneys who represented Scott after his arrests last year also were not returned Monday.

Scott remained in the Florence County Detention Center Monday morning.

Saturday’s arrest was the latest in a series of legal troubles for the man who was once the top cop in Columbia. He was one of three people arrested last July after a search for a fugitive led Richland County investigators and federal officers to his home.

A month later, he was arrested on charges that he didn’t return his service guns to the city of Columbia and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

Scott was the interim chief of the Columbia Police Department before taking the position permanently in 2011. He resigned from the post in 2013, citing post-traumatic stress disorder that he said he developed after the line-of-duty death of a deputy he hired while at the sheriff’s department. But in a story last month, The State reported that Scott resigned amid accusations of sexual misconduct and other unprofessional behavior.

A woman who was in the motel room with Scott, Aimee Cook, was arrested on felony warrants out of Lexington County and two agencies in North Carolina, according to the Florence County Sheriff’s Office. Maj. Mike Nunn said Florence County investigators do not have charges for Scott.

A complaint filed last month in Richland County names Scott as a defendant in a July 2016 crash that happened on U.S. 601. The plaintiff claims in the suit that Scott disregarded a traffic signal when turning onto the highway from Screaming Eagle Road in the Lugoff area, hitting the woman’s car “with great force.”

The complaint alleges that Scott was “under the influence of alcohol and/or other intoxicants” at the time, and says he was reckless by not keeping a proper lookout, disregarding the traffic signal and failing to apply his brakes to avoid a collision. There is no mention of injuries in the complaint, but the woman asks for judgment to compensate for damage to her car.

Richland County court records do not indicate any criminal charges against Scott for that alleged collision.

Teddy Kulmala covers breaking news for The State and covered crime and courts for seven years in Columbia, Rock Hill, Aiken and Lumberton, N.C. He graduated from Clemson University and grew up in Barnwell County.