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Once-Powerful South Carolina Lawmaker Sentenced To 18 Months Of Prison

South Carolina State House
Wikimedia Commons
The South Carolina Statehouse is seen in 2006

A South Carolina lawmaker who once ran one of the General Assembly's most powerful committees is getting ready to head to prison for an 18 month sentence on corruption charges.

jim harrison.jpg
South Carolina legislature
Former South Carolina Rep. James Harrison

Former Rep. Jim Harrison has had the sentence for perjury hanging over his head for three years. The state Supreme Court refused to overturn that conviction in January while overturning two misconduct in office convictions.

In a courtroom Tuesday, Harrison pleaded guilty to the two misconduct in office charges but was sentenced to no additional prison time. The Republican submitted an Alford plea, where he agreed the evidence against him is strong enough for a conviction but he doesn't admit guilt.

Harrison. 70, was ordered to report to a state prison Thursday. He likely won't serve the entire 18 months behind bars because state law allows sentence reductions for good behavior. A judge agreed to special considerations because of Harrison's age and heart problems.

Harrison will be the first lawmaker to go to prison in a Statehouse corruption probe that started in 2014 with the conviction of House Speaker Bobby Harrell for spending campaign money on personal expenses.

Harrell and two other Republican legislators all pleaded guilty and received probation in the corruption investigation. Harrison was the only lawmaker to go to trial..

Former state Sen. John Courson also pleaded guilty to converting campaign contributions into money for himself. He is awaiting sentencing.

Harrison served 24 years in the South Carolina House, rising to become chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.

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