Ex SC DOT official Hardee gets light sentence from tough judge
One day after getting off with a light sentence on federal criminal charges, former S.C. Department of Transportation commissioner John Hardee may undergo another criminal investigation — this time by state law enforcement officials.
On Thursday, S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson sent a letter to State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel asking Keel to assign an “agent or agents” to “review the allegations for any possible state violations.”
Although the letter doesn’t specifically say so, the Attorney General’s office is asking SLED to review the facts in the federal case for violations of state law.
Wilson’s office called the investigation it is asking for a “preliminary inquiry” — a kind of sniff test to see if a more comprehensive investigation is warranted.
SLED Chief Mark Keel told The State newspaper Thursday, “We have received that letter, and that letter is under review.”
After reviewing the letter, SLED will decide on the next step, Keel said.
Although Hardee’s federal case was discussed in open court Wednesday during his guilty plea and sentence, federal investigative documents that SLED could review likely contain far more detail about whom Hardee was interacting with and what he did when he attracted the FBI’s attention in recent years.
On Wednesday, Hardee pleaded guilty to attempting to destroy evidence in a criminal investigation and was given a sentence of a $1,000 fine, 45 days on home confinement and 40 hours of community service.
Ironically, the FBI determined that Hardee had committed no federal crime and his emails contained no evidence of a federal crime. But Hardee broke the law when he instructed an associate to destroy emails that were the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.
One of Hardee’s attorneys, Jim Griffin, said on Thursday, “This is news to me. I’m confident that the FBI thoroughly investigated the case .... I have no concerns whatsoever on behalf of Mr. Hardee.”