Former state lawmaker Thad Viers may finally learn his punishment for money laundering next week.
Viers, 37, is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 20 at the McMillan Federal Building in Florence, according to recently filed court records. He pleaded guilty in April to the money laundering charge, which carries up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine.
But Viers’ attorney, Trey Cockrell, has asked the court for a probationary sentence. He’s tried to bolster that request by submitting more than 85 letters of support from state prosecutors, attorneys, Horry County Council members and Viers’ relatives.
He’s ready to get it behind him one way or the other. He obviously made an awful mistake and he recognizes that.
Trey Cockrell, attorney for Thad Viers
Although Viers’ sentencing has been postponed several times, Cockrell suspects Tuesday’s court date won’t be moved. In a way, he said, his client is ready for some finality to the case.
“He’s ready to get it behind him one way or the other,” he said. “He obviously made an awful mistake and he recognizes that.”
Before his plea, the former legislator and one-time frontrunner for the 7th District Congressional seat was facing more than a dozen charges in connection with alleged racketeering-related financial transactions and lying to the IRS.
All other counts are being dismissed as part of a deal with prosecutors. Had he been convicted of the original 14 charges, Viers faced up to 145 years in prison.
10 years Maximum prison sentence Viers could receive for money laundering
The case against Viers stemmed from allegations that he tried to help law firm client Marlon Weaver hide assets from an insurance company that was trying to collect money on a construction bond.
Weaver pleaded guilty to a felony money laundering charge and in June was sentenced to 12 months and one day in prison. He was also ordered to pay $1.2 million in restitution and serve three years of supervised release. Prosecutors asked that his sentence be reduced because of his assistance in other cases.
Weaver admitted he tried to hide money he made from the 2010 sale of Bucksport Marina from an insurance company that had provided a $6 million bond for a road paving project his company was supposed to complete.
Among the assets Weaver pledged as security for the bond was his one-fifth interest in the marina.
Investigators say Weaver back-dated documents to make it appear as if he had transferred his interest in the marina to his daughters prior to his company's default on the road paving project.
Prosecutors say Viers knew Weaver was trying to hide the money and helped him form a limited liability corporation that purportedly transferred Weaver's interest in the marina to his daughters.
An indictment states Viers also made 12 withdrawals totaling $524,000 from a trust account he set up and gave that money to Weaver. Prosecutors contend Viers knew that money came from Weaver's illegal activity related to the marina sale.
They also say Viers lied to an IRS investigator when he said he was not aware that Weaver was trying to hide assets from the insurance company.
$250,000 Maximum fine Viers could be forced to pay for money laundering
Viers served in the S.C. House of Representatives from 2003-12. He represented District 68, which includes Socastee. A graduate of Socastee High School and the University of South Carolina law school, Viers was a frontrunner for the open U.S. House District 7 seat in 2012 before withdrawing from the race when he was accused of stalking a former girlfriend.
Although federal prosecutors don’t oppose a sentence of probation, Cockrell said that doesn’t mean Viers will receive such a punishment. At this point, however, Viers is ready to end the uncertainty.
“He’s hanging in there,” Cockrell said. “Obviously, he’s anxious.”