Crime & Courts

SC lawmaker to lawbreaker to non-lawyer: Republican Thad Viers now disbarred

Thad Viers
Thad Viers

The S.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday disbarred former state Rep. Thad Viers, a Republican from Horry County, for charges he faced in 2012 in connection with his ex-girlfriend as well for a federal money laundering charge in 2014.

Viers is now serving time in a federal prison in Hopewell, Va., on money the laundering charges, which were unrelated to his personal problems. He is due to leave prison in June 2017.

Once Viers, 38, of Myrtle Beach, had punched all the right tickets to ascend the Republican ladder of success.

As a young teen, he was a page to the late Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., graduated from The Citadel in 1999, did research for the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank and was elected to the S.C. House of Representatives in 2003.

He took the anti-big government positions that resonate with his party’s base – for example, suing the city of Myrtle Beach over its law that required motorcyclists to wear helmets within city limits.

In early 2012, while readying a bid for Congress, Viers was arrested on charges of harassing and stalking a 28-year-old woman. That came six years after he was charged with threatening to assault a man who was dating his estranged wife. He pleaded no contest in that case.

Before the 2012 harassment and stalking case was disposed of, Viers was also indicted for burglary and larceny – again, a charge connected with the 28-year-old woman Viers had once dated. In 2014, Viers pleaded guilty to second-degree harassment and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. The related charges were dismissed.

Later in 2014, a federal grand jury indicted Viers on multiple felony charges, including money laundering and making false statements to the IRS.

In August of last year, Viers pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges in a plea deal that dismissed other charges. He was sentenced to 37 months in prison and a fine of $875,000. Upon release from federal prison, he will be on supervised release for three years.

The Supreme Court first suspended Viers’ law license in April 2012, just after the charges for harassment and stalking were brought against him. His license to practice law has been suspended since then. The Supreme Court’s Wednesday disbarment was made public Wednesday.

However, at some point, Viers will be able to apply for a law license again. But that is at least five years in the future, after he completes his supervised release from prison. Reinstatement for a convicted felon who has spent time in prison is not automatic. In addition, if he chooses to try to be reinstated, he must retake and pass the bar exam.