On Tuesday, January 23, Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Walter (Walt) Wilkins, representing Greenville and Pickens counties, spoke at the Mauldin Rotary. Born and raised in Greenville, Walt is a Wofford College graduate and earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina. He was introduced by Mauldin Rotary’s president-elect Tim Brett, who worked with Walt’s father Billy, the Solicitor in 1975; and his uncle David, when they were desk mates from 1983 to 1987 in the S.C. General Assembly.
In sharing his approach to managing a staff of nearly 150, Walt made it clear that his main focus is in dealing with career criminals, both violent and white collar, versus one-time offenders.
We take a much different approach in prosecuting those who seem most likely to respond positively to rehabilitation programs, versus those who are repeat offenders, Walt said, adding, We just don’t have the manpower to prosecute everyone who commits a crime in Greenville and Pickens counties.
Walt said one of his biggest challenges is dealing with the opioid epidemic, an epidemic that is sweeping the country. Opioid-related deaths, particularly those involving the drug fentanyl, are rising faster than ever. Greenville and Pickens counties experience approximately one opioid-related death per day. Opioids include painkillers, such as morphine, methadone, buprenorphine, hydrocodone and oxycodone as well as heroin.
Walt’s professional career began as an attorney with Lockheed Martin Aircraft in Argentina, and later joined the Greenville law firm of Leatherwood, Walker, Todd and Mann. In 2005, Walt was appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Greenville Office. While there he handled several noteworthy cases including one of the largest mortgage fraud cases in the district, a large-scale gambling operation which resulted in one of the largest forfeiture cases in the Upstate, and a high profile human trafficking case.
President George W. Bush appointed Walt the United States Attorney for the District of South Carolina in May of 2008, to serve as the state’s chief federal prosecutor. Through his cooperation with state and local law enforcement agencies some of the most serious and violent gangs operating in the state were dismantled.
In November of 2010, Walt was elected Solicitor of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit. He was re-elected in 2014. Soon after this first election, Walt was appointed by Governor Nikki Haley to serve on the Commission on Prosecution Coordination. In March 2011, he established a Worthless Check Program for Greenville and Pickens that helps local businesses by collecting money on bad checks and transferring the funds to the victim. Walt also established a Sex Crime Prosecution Unit within his office to target and effectively prosecute sex crimes, particularly those against children. He also expanded the Juvenile Arbitration Program to include Greenville County.