SLED: Sheriff candidate plotted kidnapping of judge

James Bartee, during an interview with WYFF4 in April (Source:
James Bartee, during an interview with WYFF4 in April (Source:

OCONEE COUNTY, SC (WYFF) A candidate for Oconee County sheriff was arrested Wednesday after being accused of trying to arrange the kidnapping of a retired judge.

James Bartee is charged with solicitation to commit a felony.

WYFF News 4 was the only news organization there when Bartee was arrested.

Solicitor Chrissy Adams said evidence was captured on audio surveillance, and Bartee gave the person money to buy items needed for the kidnapping.

Bartee, who is a retired U.S. Secret Service agent, is one of four candidates for Oconee County sheriff. He is accused of trying to arrange to have retired circuit Judge James C. Williams Jr. kidnapped.

Bartee is accused of trying to arrange the kidnapping after Williams filed an action asking for a judgment on whether Bartee was qualified to run for sheriff. The action also asked for an injunction against creating ballots with Bartee listed as a candidate.

Williams' filing claims that Bartee is ineligible to run for sheriff because he was never a certified law enforcement officer under state law.

The decision on Bartee's candidacy was to be made by Judge Cordell Maddox
Bartee was to compete in the June 12 Republican primary, along with current Oconee County Chief Deputy Terry Wilson and former sheriff's captains Donnie Fricks and Mike Crenshaw.

Republican Party Chairman Eddie Adams ruled that Bartee was eligible to participate in the primary because under state law, former federal law enforcement officers are given "a South Carolina certificate as a law enforcement officer" if they present the appropriate credentials.

But Williams' lawyer says, according to state code, a person must have "one year's experience as a certified law enforcement officer in South Carolina" to serve as sheriff.

Bartee was a U.S. Secret Service agent for 15 years. Fricks and Crenshaw both have 25 years' experience in law enforcement and Wilson has 19 years' experience.

Bartee was arrested Wednesday afternoon and is in the custody of the State Law Enforcement Division.

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