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Former Manning City Police Chief Blair Shaffer was arrested by FBI agents on Monday morning and was taken to Charleston for booking.
Shaffer first stepped into the publicly negative spotlight when he was fired by the City of Manning six months ago in what was, at the time, a questionable manner. Shaffer disputed his termination, going before a Grievance Board and eventually before the Manning City Council for review. The Council ultimately upheld his termination, and no further actions were taken against Shaffer by the City, nor did Shaffer pursue further action against the City.
It seems, however, the City of Manning was not the only organization looking into Shaffer’s past actions. After an investigation which began in 2016, the FBI issued and executed a Federal warrant on Monday morning, taking Shaffer into custody. Within hours, his bond hearing was held at the U.S. District Courthouse in Charleston.
During the hearing on Monday afternoon, U.S. Magistrate Judge Bristow Marchant read the Miranda rights to Shaffer, ensuring Shaffer was cognizant of all of his rights before proceeding further.
Shaffer first requested a court-appointed attorney, citing lack of liquid funds and submitting the proper paperwork, which had previously been filled out. Marchant approved his request, pending verification of the information submitted in his application paperwork. An attorney was available to represent him at the bond hearing.
The charges were then unsealed, and Marchant read the charges into the record. Indictments had been filed in Columbia, and Shaffer was indicted on the following five charges.
Count 1: Theft of Federal Funds
The Grand Jury charged that between September 12-19, 2015, Shaffer stole federal funds of over $5,000 which had come in to the City of Manning through various Federal programs providing grants and assistance. This violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 666, and it carries a penalty of no more than 10 years in prison, $250,000 in fines, three years of probation and a $100 special assessment fee.
Count 2: Money Laundering
The Grand Jury charged that between September 19 and November 11, 2015, Shaffer conducted and attempted to conduct financial transactions to disguise the source of money brought into the Manning Police Department as a result of the distribution of controlled substances. This violated Title 18, United States Code, Section 1956(a)(3)(B), and it carries a penalty of no more than 20 years in prison, $500,000 in fines, three years of probation and a $100 special assessment fee.
Count 3: Structuring
Federal law mandates that any financial institution which engages in any currency transaction in excess of $10,000 with a customer must report this transaction to the Department of the Treasury. Individuals who engage in illegal activities, such as money laundering, often make multiple cash deposits on the same or consecutive days, ensuring each deposit is lower than the $10,000 threshold in an attempt to avoid being reported. This is called structuring and is prohibited by Title 31, United States Code, Section 5324(a).