Sunday, November 13, 2005
Cop accused of taking cash, not writing tickets
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A state trooper was arrested Friday after authorities accused him of taking thousands of dollars from Hispanic motorists instead of issuing traffic tickets.
Lance Cpl. Stephen A. Watts, 28, of Pelion was charged with misconduct after he collected $40 from a driver instead of writing a ticket during a traffic stop Oct. 30 in Lexington County near Columbia, according to an arrest warrant.
More charges were expected, authorities said.
Lexington County Sheriff James Metts said investigators were tipped off after a farmer asked if it was appropriate for police to stop migrant workers and take money without issuing a ticket.
Witnesses and victims spoke little to no English, the sheriff said.
"I think most of them were pulled over because they were Hispanic," Metts said. "This person wasn't interested in making legitimate stops in my opinion. He was interested in extracting money from these people."
Telephone directories did not list a number for Watts, who was suspended without pay.