Sheriff's candidate accused of plotting to kidnap retired judge

James Bartee appears before a judge during a bond hearing.

ANDERSON, S.C. (WACH, AP) -- State Law Enforcement Division agents have arrested an Oconee County sheriff's candidate and charged him with plotting to kidnap a retired judge.

A warrant states that James Bartee solicited someone to abduct retired Circuit Judge James C. Williams Jr. to prevent him from appearing at a hearing in Anderson.

The warrant says evidence was obtained by audio recording.

Bartee is a 54-year-old retired U.S. Secret Service agent. He was arrested in Anderson where Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox was holding a hearing on an action Williams had filed questioning Bartee's eligibility to run for sheriff.

Williams contends Bartee should be removed from the June 12 primary ballot because he is not certified as a law enforcement officer in South Carolina..

The following statement was posted to the "Elect James Bartee Sheriff of Oconee County, SC" Facebook page Wednesday:

"James Bartee wants all to know that he is legally on the ballot and deserves to be on the ballot. He was certified in 1983 when he graduated from two of the finest law enforcement academies in the world, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, GA and the US Secret Service Academy in Washington, DC and Beltsville, MD. We were trained in all areas of law enforcement. I received certificates for both of these academies. Therefore, when I signed my affidavit to run for Sheriff in March of 2012, I was certified!..."

According to Fox Carolina, Bartee's attorney Stephen Brown said the case was all political and requested a personal recognizance bond, which the judge granted. His next court appearance is set for June 29 at 9 a.m. in Oconee County. After he was released on bond, Bartee said he was innocent and will be vindicated.

Aaron Barker with Fox Carolina reports that Brown said Bartee made the effort to become certified by the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, but he said the academy is not following the law when it comes to issuing the certificate.

"It's been a tough campaign and I have had a lot of stuff thrown at me, trying to get me off the ballot," said Bartee after his bond hearing. "Now this is the next step, just arrest me. What I'm telling you is I'm still on the ballot. It will be up to the people. Do they believe me? And the truth will come out, the full story."

Brown said the issue won't be resolved until after the election is over, which is less than two weeks away.

"Mr. Bartee is going to be running hard for sheriff over the next several weeks and fully expects to be elected," said Brown. "Bottom line is Mr. Bartee is fully qualified to run for sheriff and serve as sheriff in Oconee County."

(The Associated Press and Fox Carolina contributed to this report.)