Drugs prescribed to dead people found in ex-deputy coroner’s possession, SC cops say

A former coroner’s office employee was charged with multiple crimes after he was found in possession of drugs that were prescribed to people whose deaths he had investigated, according to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division.

Alton Jeffery Smith, a 60-year-old Aiken resident, was charged with misconduct in office and possession of a controlled substance (Schedule I to V), SLED said Monday in a news release.

SLED said Smith used to be the chief deputy coroner of the Aiken County Coroner’s Office. There was no word if Smith resigned, or if he was fired from the coroner’s office.

But Smith was with the coroner’s office from Sept. 22, 2018 through June 10, 2023, according to an arrest warrant.

On June 10, 2023, his home was searched by Aiken County Sheriff’s Office deputies who recovered drugs that were not prescribed to Smith, or anyone else living in the residence, an arrest warrant shows.

The drugs — Percocet EQ, oxycodone-acetaminophen, zolpidem tartrate, and an unknown bottle of blue pills later identified as alprazolam — were “taken from death investigations Smith responded to in his official capacity as deputy coroner,” an arrest warrant said.

Smith was supposed to document any medications seized from death investigations he responded to, but he did not report the previously listed drugs taken from two homes he visited as part of those investigations, the arrest warrant shows.

SLED said Smith was booked into the Aiken County Detention Center. As of Tuesday morning, he was not listed on the jail’s inmate roster, and information about his bond status was not available.

Smith will be prosecuted by the 2nd Circuit Solicitor’s Office.

If convicted on the misdemeanor drug charge, which was listed as a first offense, Smith faces a maximum punishment of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine, according to South Carolina law. A conviction on the misdemeanor misconduct in office charge carries a maximum punishment of a year behind bars and a $1,000 fine, according to state law.