Greenville police lieutenant retires after misconduct investigation that included chief

Greenville police lieutenant retires after misconduct investigation that included chief

Greenville Police Lt. Jason Rampey, who was put on paid administrative leave following a state investigation that led to the resignation of Chief Ken Miller, has retired.

Rampey had been with the department since 1995, and he retired Friday. He did not give an explanation about what led to his decision to retire in a letter submitted to the department, said Lt. Alia Paramore, a spokesperson for the department.

Rampey did not immediately respond Tuesday to a voicemail and message seeking comment.

Miller and Rampey faced misconduct allegations that included preferential treatment for an influential hotelier, D.J. Rama, after Rama was charged with public intoxication in 2018. An investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division found “very troubling” behavior by Miller and Rampey, but it did not find evidence to support criminal charges for either officer, according to a letter sent by First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe to conclude the investigation.

Pascoe said there was evidence that Miller and Rampey were untruthful with SLED investigators, but Pascoe concluded that Miller and Rampey were within their rights to seek that the charge against Rama be dropped — despite the opposition of Capt. Stacey Owens and arresting officer Blake Gibson — because of a “good behavior dismissal” practice in Greenville. The practice makes a defendant’s charge eligible for dismissal and expungement based on lack of criminal history, city officials have said.

Pascoe and Rama said that Rama did not seek preferential treatment, but Pascoe’s letter said the SLED investigation showed that Miller and Rampey worked to drop Rama’s charge for “political reasons.”

Miller resigned as chief on New Year’s Eve. He has not responded to calls or messages seeking comment.

Rampey had been put on paid administrative leave since Dec. 19, two days after Pascoe sent his letter to SLED after reviewing the findings of its investigation.

‘Good behavior dismissal’: Police chief dropped charge for influential Greenville hotelier

Gibson, the arresting officer, told SLED agents he did not consent to Rama’s charge being dismissed despite a statement by Rampey to SLED that had indicated that Gibson did consent.

Greenville City Manager John McDonough placed Miller and Rampey on paid administrative leave at the conclusion of the SLED investigation. Days later, Miller resigned, agreeing to a severance payment equal to four months of his salary, according to the city.

McDonough did not immediately respond to a phone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Greenville received three anonymous “employee protection line” complaints relating to the Rama case after the charge was dismissed, according to records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The complaints reference Miller’s and Rampey’s actions in getting Rama’s record cleared.

“Mr. McDonough, please don’t let this continue. The Chief and Rampey tried to damage Officer Gibson’s reputation to get a rich man out of trouble. This is wrong,” one of the complaints states.

Rampey, the lieutenant over criminal investigations, had been tapped for a promotion to captain, Paramore said. He was identified by city spokesperson Leslie Fletcher as an interim captain at the time he was placed on leave.

Rampey was planning to serve as the captain over internal affairs by 2020, according to his most recent employee evaluation obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Lt. Rampey has demonstrated the ability to effectively manage and lead the unit, and he is readied himself for the next level of command,” his evaluation states. The evaluation was signed by Miller and Capt. Howie Thompson, who was appointed acting chief when Miller resigned.

According to an investigative file from SLED obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Rama was arrested in downtown Greenville on Aug. 30, 2018. According to an incident report, Gibson spotted Rama stumbling across Main Street near Broad Street as Rama appeared to be walking toward his parked car. Rama told the officer that he was attempting to catch an Uber ride, but the officer said evidence suggested that Rama planned to drive himself, the report states.

It was the same night Rama hosted an annual benefit for police officers and firefighters at the Hyatt Regency, one of several prominent Greenville hotels owned by Rama’s Auro hospitality company, which operates hotels across seven states.

Check back for more on this developing story.

Daniel J. Gross is an investigative watchdog reporter focusing on public safety and law enforcement for The Greenville News. Reach him at dgross@greenvillenews.com or on Twitter @danieljgross.

Published at Tue, 14 Jan 2020 09:41:00 +0000

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