Former Secret Service Agent Charged in Kidnapping Plot
(NEW YORK) -- A former U.S. Secret Service agent campaigning to be a sheriff in South Carolina is facing charges for allegedly plotting to kidnap a retired judge.
James Bartee, a 54-year-old running for sheriff in Oconee County, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with solicitation to commit a felony after authorities said he tried to pay someone to abduct former judge James Williams Jr., who is trying to get Bartee removed from the ballot for sheriff.
Bartee was released on $10,000 bond Thursday but will lose his passport as he is considered a flight risk, according to local media reports. After his bond hearing, Bartee denied the accusations and told reporters that the "truth will come out."
According to audio recordings cited in the arrest warrant, Bartee allegedly plotted for several days with the unidentified potential kidnapper until his arrest.
State authorities said they launched the investigation in response to a request by Oconee County's current sheriff.
Bartee's campaign Facebook page shows that there was an ongoing dispute between the sheriff candidate and Williams, a retired Circuit Court judge who filed a civil suit claiming Bartee was ineligible to run for sheriff because he is not a certified law enforcement officer in South Carolina. Bartee says his federal certifications as a former Secret Service agent fulfill the requirement.
"James Bartee wants all to know that he is legally on the ballot and deserves to be on the ballot," a post on the campaign Facebook page reads.
According to Bartee's campaign website, he was employed by the Secret Service for 25 years before retiring in 2000 as a Senior Special Agent. The Secret Service told ABC News Bartee is a former employee, but declined to say how long he served or provide details of his record with the agency.
Most recently, a picture on the campaign website shows Bartee "providing protection and advice" to former Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann at a campaign event in South Carolina last August.
In April, the Secret Service was mired in a series of allegations of misconduct against its agents. Most notably, a scandal erupted around Secret Service agents' meetings with prostitutes during a trip to Cartagena, Colombia, ahead of President Obama's arrival there for an international summit.
Bartee did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report.
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