$1.6M ruling goes against Sheriff Leon Lott

Leon Lott

LEXINGTON, S.C. (AP) -- A Lexington County jury has awarded a woman $1.6 million after she sued Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott over her investigation and arrest in an estate dispute three years ago.

The (Columbia) State newspaper reports ( ) lawyers for attorney Kay Paschal argued she was hounded by deputies before her arrest and was strip searched and tossed in jail before a judge dismissed forgery and breach of trust charges.

Paschal's lawyers say she was a caretaker and common-law wife of Columbia businessman David Wallace, whose $6 million estate was challenged after he died. The charges against Paschal stemmed from a $63,000 van bought after Wallace suffered a stroke.

Lott says he stands behind his deputies and plans to appeal. He says he also will keep pursuing a criminal case against Paschal.