Bias says arrest an 'honest mistake'
March 17, 2010 @ 11:35 PM
HUNTINGTON -- Cabell County Commission President Scott Bias on Wednesday said his May 2009 arrest at Myrtle Beach International Airport resulted from nothing more than an honest mistake.
It occurred May 17, 2009, as Bias went through federal airport screening. The X-ray machine detected a handgun in his possession, according to Bias and court documents filed in Horry County, S.C.
"It was just a plain old, honest mistake, and now it's just mudslinging in the election," Bias said Monday.
Local authorities in South Carolina charged Bias, who this year is seeking his second term in office, with misdemeanor unlawful carrying of a pistol.
Horry County prosecutors dismissed the charge two months later. Bias then paid a civil fine assessed by the Transportation Security Administration. He estimates the fine exceeded $100.
Bias had traveled to Myrtle Beach by automobile with a relative. Scheduling issues forced him to catch a flight home, he said.
Bias carried along a laptop case containing a computer and a gun, among other items. He had used the computer, but had never retrieved the gun. He said he "flat forgot it was in there," until being alerted by security.
Bias, who said he knew guns could not pass through airport security, said he would have left it with the relative if he had remembered.
Bias was held behind bars until a magistrate was available. He said he was then allowed to post bond and return to West Virginia. A background check followed, investigators found no potential threat, the state charge was dismissed and Bias' gun was returned.
Bias referred to rumors that circulated this week about his arrest as being "typical of an election."
"It wasn't any big deal," he said of the arrest. "It's just mudslinging for the election. That's all it is. It wasn't anything severe. I owned up to it. I didn't deny it. It's just like speeding down the highway. You pay your fine and go on."
Bias confirmed a county prosecutor's report that his concealed weapons permit was expired at the time. He said it remained expired as of Wednesday, and he hasn't been carrying a weapon since.
Bias said he previously carried a handgun during road trips as a precaution, for times such as a vehicle breakdown in the middle of the night.