Post Tagged with: "Public Corruption"

Public Corruption and Southern Holdings

May 11, 2018 8:00 AM
Public Corruption and Southern Holdings

Public corruption is a hot topic today with politicians making illegal deals and other powerful interests using their influence to evade the law.

Too often the courts are also included in the process providing the final piece to the public corruption puzzle.

When this happens, the entire fabric of American society is torn and it’s difficult to see how it can be fixed.

Such is the story of the case of Southern Holdings et al v. Horry County et al.

In the Spring of the year 2000, Southern Holdings was a nice little corporation valued at $20 million, by independent analysts, doing business in South Carolina, North Carolina and Las Vegas, Nevada. It was owned by 75 shareholders, some of whom were residents of Horry County, with varying stock positions.

The corporation had recently gained the rights to contracts to be the exclusive marketer of cigarettes in areas of South America along with the rights to an offshore bank license and other contracts. The total value of these contracts and rights was $12-$15 million, according to corporate records.

After Southern Holdings gained the rights to these contracts, former Southern Holdings shareholder Ancil B. Garvin, III, a resident of Horry County at the time, attempted to get Southern Holdings President James Spencer to cut the remaining shareholders out of the profits.

What Spencer didn’t know then was that Garvin was selling cigarettes in the black market as well as with legitimate outlets.

In an e-mail from Garvin to Spencer in early May 2000, Garvin urged Spencer to agree to buy out the other stockholders. Garvin suggested he and Spencer could then “take the remaining $10 million of assets and retire.” Spencer refused.

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Southern Holdings SLED and FBI Coverup

October 19, 2016 5:08 AM
Southern Holdings SLED and FBI Coverup

“New evidence uncovered in documents released by SLED pursuant to a July 2015 Freedom of Information Act request point to the fact that HCPD and SLED never intended to provide the original videotapes to the plaintiffs regardless of court orders, subpoenas or any other legal documents.”

Videotapes of the illegal arrest of Southern Holdings president James Spencer were key pieces of evidence in the lawsuit against Horry County.

Where the original tapes of the arrest could be found were issues of question from the beginning of the case.

Finally, copies of the alleged original videotapes were sent to the plaintiffs (Southern Holdings, Spencer et al) expert analyst Steve Cain in March 2004.

Cain’s analysis gave strong indication that the tape copy he analyzed had been heavily edited. Cain submitted a three-page report in March 2004, to plaintiffs’ counsel in which he noted various anomalies that indicated editing of the tape.

“All of the above anomalies collectively cast serious doubt concerning the authenticity of portions of the original videotape from which this tape was reportedly manufactured by the Horry County Police Department,” read one section of Cain’s report.

Cain furthermore said he “strongly recommended” obtaining the original tape for examination and the original VCR that was used to produce the original tape (in order to confirm the editing, which would prove evidence tampering on the part of HCPD.)

After much court wrangling about the original videotapes, they were allegedly taken to Cain’s laboratory in Wisconsin by Defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee on October 27, 2004, pursuant to Court Order 109, issued September 7, 2004, by Judge R. Bryan Harwell.

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Bobby Harrell Down, How Many To Go?

October 24, 2014 6:24 AM
Bobby Harrell Down, How Many To Go?

Once the state’s most powerful politician, Bobby Harrell may now be the state’s most important informant.

Harrell pleaded guilty to six counts of misusing campaign money being sentenced to one year in jail for each charge. The jail time will be avoided pending successful completion of three years of probation and payment of $130,000 in fines and penalties.

However, Harrell also had to agree to resign his House seat immediately and sign an agreement to cooperate with SLED and FBI investigators in any other investigations of which he may have knowledge. Part of that cooperation will include the use of a lie detector to determine Harrell’s truthfulness.

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The West Columbia Mayor Problem

October 2, 2014 7:00 AM
The West Columbia Mayor Problem

West Columbia voters said a resounding “NO” to a change in government Tuesday, defeating an attempt by supporters of Mayor Joe Owens to change the form of city government to a strong mayor type by a 2 to 1 margin.

Now the council must decide if there are further steps to be taken regarding some of Owens’ alleged actions while in office.

Since first taking office, Owens may have assumed the duties of a strong mayor and more, under the current council form of government, in violation of state law.

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West Columbia Strong Mayor Referendum Next Week

September 23, 2014 6:17 AM
West Columbia Strong Mayor Referendum Next Week

It is one week until September 30th, the day West Columbia voters will decide whether they want to change their form of city government to one with a strong mayor.

To add to the drama surrounding the vote, former West Columbia police Maj. Matt Edwards filed a lawsuit against the city claiming he was dismissed improperly and defamed by a subsequent report commissioned by city council.

According to several sources familiar with the city, Mayor Joe Owens gave Edwards a $10,000 raise shortly before his position was made redundant in a reorganization of the force last spring.

Owens, it should be noted, does not have the power to give anyone a raise on his own with the current council form of government. But, he did it anyway.

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S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell Indicted – Updated

September 10, 2014 3:00 PM
S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell Indicted – Updated

S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell was indicted today on nine charges by the Richland County Grand Jury.

The following is a press release from First Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe regarding the action.

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Silence Continues on Southern Holdings Money

September 7, 2014 8:09 AM
Silence Continues on Southern Holdings Money

Another week has passed with no decision on the Southern Holdings litigation and settlement money.

Despite saying in court on August 20, 2014, he would issue a ruling within one week, Judge Doyet A. Early remains silent.

The case before Judge Early is an interpleader action asking the court to rule on who has claim to the remaining Southern Holdings litigation and settlement funds and how much should go to each claimant.

The interpleader action was brought by attorney and Lexington Magistrate John Rakowsky who represented seven individual plaintiffs in the original Southern Holdings case. Rakowsky stated he didn’t know who had claims to the remaining litigation and settlement money he held.

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No Decision on Southern Holdings Money

September 1, 2014 7:33 AM
No Decision on Southern Holdings Money

Despite stating he would issue a ruling last week, Judge Doyet A. Early remained silent on the disposition of litigation and settlement money in the Southern Holdings case.

The case before Judge Early is an interpleader action asking the court to rule on who has claim to the remaining Southern Holdings litigation and settlement funds and how much should go to each claimant.

The interpleader case was brought by attorney and Lexington Magistrate John Rakowsky who represented seven individual plaintiffs in the original Southern Holdings case. Rakowsky stated he didn’t know who had claims to the remaining litigation and settlement money he held.

There are problems with issuing a decision in the interpleader case.

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Is Strong Mayor Best for West Columbia

August 29, 2014 6:00 AM
Is Strong Mayor Best for West Columbia

The City of West Columbia will hold a referendum September 30, 2014 to determine whether the city government should change to give current mayor Joe Owens strong mayor powers.

Apparently the real issue here is whether the voters of West Columbia agree with what already seems to be a de facto assumption of strong mayor actions by current mayor Joe Owens.

In the current council form of government, Owens is one of nine council members having one vote and no administrative duties for decisions of policy. The title of mayor makes him nothing more than first among equals, so to speak.

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Bobby Harrell Investigation – Is the Fix In?

July 12, 2014 9:00 PM
Bobby Harrell Investigation – Is the Fix In?

Most of you probably already know that earlier this week the S.C. Supreme Court reversed a circuit court ruling that ordered the grand jury investigation into possible political corruption by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell ended.

The Supreme Court ruled that Circuit Court Judge Casey Manning erred when he said the case belonged in the S.C. House Ethics Committee unless the committee found evidence of a possible criminal violation at which time it would refer its findings to the Attorney General’s office.

The Court ruled that the existence of the House Ethics Committee “does not affect the Attorney General’s authority to initiate a criminal investigation in any way.”

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