October 22, 2014

Former Lancaster County sheriff arrested for allegedly taking items from former job

CauthenA former Lancaster County sheriff was arrested Tuesday on claims that he took a gun and laptop from the sheriff’s office when his term ended and never returned them.

58 year-old John Cauthen has been charged with breach of trust with fraudulent intent after he allegedly carried off items belonging to the sheriff’s office when he retired.

Cauthen was booked after an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division. The charge is a misdemeanor that could carry a 30-day jail sentence or a $1,000 fine.


In July, Cauthen was arrested in Rock Hill after his neighbors claimed he fired slingshot pellets, marbles and paintballs at their house and car.

He was charged with one count of malicious damage to property over $2,000 and one count of damage to personal property, $2,000 or less.


Cauthen was sheriff of Lancaster County from 1997 until 2009, when he did not seek another term.


Fundraiser fined $1 million for illegal solicitation calls in SC

South Carolina’s Secretary of State has imposed a seven-figure fine against a professional fundraiser it accused of relying on robocalls to raise money.

Secretary of State Mark Hammond’s office said Wednesday that it had issued a more than $1 million fine against professional solicitor Strategic Fundraising, Inc., for numerous violations of the South Carolina Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act. The violations occurred in June

The violations included the prerecorded message not identifying the caller as a “professional” or “paid” solicitor, which state law requires. Other violations included misrepresentation and failure to register individual professional solicitors as required.

“What makes this case so egregious is that these were robo-calls in which the individual solicitors were using prerecorded scripts,” Hammond said in a statement. “This wasn’t a situation in which an individual caller made a mistake and went off script—these disclosure violations were a result of deliberate choices made by a professional fundraiser who was well-aware of the requirements of the Solicitation of Charitable Funds Act.”

The Secretary of State’s Office said Strategic Fundraising, Inc. had already received several notices of violation, and even entered into a compliance agreement in 2009 in which it agreed to better follow state law.

“These mandatory disclosures are in place to protect South Carolina donors, so they know where their hard-earned money is going when they make a charitable contribution,” Hammond continued. “Individual solicitors are required to disclose criminal convictions involving fraud and theft—including identity theft—in their registration applications. If a professional fundraising company does not register its solicitors, then who knows who’s handling charitable donors’ personal information?”

Haley spends Greenville debate on defensive

Gov. Nikki Haley (File)

Gov. Nikki Haley (File)

The gloves came off at some points in Tuesday night’s debate among the five candidates hoping to be elected governor next month.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Nikki Haley found herself fending off verbal attacks from her challengers as questions moved away from what her campaign considers her strongest issue — the economy — and instead towards education, domestic violence, and Medicaid funding. The event at Furman University near Greenville was the last debate in the governor’s race before voters head to the polls in two weeks.

The debate also had a heightened intensity for the governor’s opponents, as a recent Charleston Post & Courier poll found Haley holds a 20-point lead over Democratic State Sen. Vincent Sheheen in the polls (51% to 31%). Independent petition candidate Tom Ervin was third in the survey with 11 percent support, while Libertarian nominee Steve French and the United Citizens Party’s Morgan Bruce Reeves were within the margin of error. Haley defeated Sheheen with 51 percent of the vote to 47 percent in the 2010 election. [Read more...]

Superintendent explains why Academic Magnet coach was fired over postgame celebrations

Charleston County School District Image

Bud Walpole (Image: Charleston County School District)

The varsity football coach at Academic Magnet High School in Charleston County has been relieved from his coaching duties because of postgame victory celebrations a school board member says involved players smashing watermelons and making ape-like sounds, according to the Charleston County School District superintendent.

But some parents were livid with the decision, saying the celebrations had no racial intent at all.

Superintendent Dr. Nancy McGinley said that Academic Magnet High School football coach Eugene “Bud” Walpole will no longer coach the Raptors because of what some in the district felt were inappropriate postgame celebrations that could be seen as having racial overtones.

“This is not an employee who has been fired for the district, he is still a teacher in the district,” she said. “This relieving of the duties was related to the coaching position only.”

McGinley said activities that were part of the celebrations were something the adults should have not let happen. “Therefore we took action to relieve the head coach of his responsibilities.” McGinley said.

[Read more...]

SC pork executive takes plea deal for carrying gun into congressional offices

The Cannon Building, where Pestage was arrested in July (Image: Architect of the Capitol)

The Cannon Building, where Pestage was arrested in July (Image: Architect of the Capitol)

A South Carolina pork executive accused of trying to enter a congressional office building in Washington with a handgun  has pleaded guilty in the case.

The Associated Press reports 59-year-old Ronald Prestage of Camden pleaded guilty Tuesday in the District of Columbia’s Superior Court to charges of having an unregistered firearm and unregistered ammunition. Prestage was arrested in July as he passed through the checkpoint of a House of Representatives office building. Concealed weapons are not allowed in federal office buildings. Prestage, who works with North Carolina-based Prestage Farms, was the president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council at the time.

A judge sentenced him to 30 days in jail, but suspended the sentence on the condition that Prestage successfully complete six months of unsupervised probation.

Neither Prestage nor his attorneys have commented on the case since the July arrest.

He also serves on the North Carolina State University board of trustees.