Multiple agents from the FBI and South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division spent hours at the Chester County Sheriff’s Office in some type of investigation, officials said Monday morning.
The U.S Attorney’s office in Columbia confirmed it is conducting an ongoing investigation.
Don Wood, spokesman for the FBI South Carolina field office, confirmed that agents were at the sheriff’s office but declined to offer details.
“We are conducting a lawful law enforcement activity,” Wood said.
Two FBI vehicles, including a panel van and a type of truck, were outside the sheriff’s office from early morning through the afternoon. An FBI agent that came outside declined comment.
The trucks left shortly before 3 p.m. It is unknown what items were taken by agents before they left.
The sheriff’s office is located on Dawson Drive just north of downtown Chester. It is run by Sheriff Alex Underwood. It handles patrol, investigations, and other duties and also runs the Chester County jail.
Underwood, a former SLED agent, was first elected in 2012 and re-elected in 2016.
Underwood could not be reached for comment Monday. However, after The Herald waited outside the office for more than four hours Monday while the FBI was inside, a major from the sheriff’s office hand-delivered a written statement from the sheriff’s office on the investigation by federal agents going on inside.
“The sheriff does not have a statement at this time,” Major Dwayne Robinson of the Chester County Sheriff’s Office said in a written statement. “He and the staff here are cooperating fully with an obvious investigative matter. The sheriff does plan to make an official on air interview about this and other matters when he is cleared to do so.”
The sheriff is elected by the people of Chester County and does not report to anyone else as the top law enforcement officer in Chester County. It remains unclear whom would have to clear Underwood to speak about any matter at his office.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in South Carolina, Lance Crick, declined to comment on why the FBI was at the sheriff’s office.
“We cannot comment regarding an ongoing investigation,” Crick said.
SLED spokesman Thom Berry said SLED agents are only assisting and that all information has to come from federal authorities.
The sheriff’s office also is over the Chester County 911 system.
The office also operates a program for troubled teens called “Project Storm” that some experts have labeled as child abuse. The sheriff has said the program helps troubled kids.