February 11, 2016

Tighter moped regulations reach SC Senate after passing House

(Image: SCETV)

(Image: SCETV)

A bill that advanced to the state Senate last week would put new restrictions on moped riders.

The proposal, which passed the House in a 67-41 vote last week, would require drivers register their mopeds, carry a license and liability insurance, and wear reflective vests while riding.

State Rep. Joe Daning, R-Goose Creek, said the bill combines several different pieces of legislation proposed in the House since 2010 that are designed to crack down on the currently unregulated vehicles. “This bill would provide safety requirements, delete obsolete language, allow our law enforcement to enforce the rules of the roads which these vehicles are exempt from, and require the registering and licensing of the vehicle, which is not currently required.”

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Charleston Harbor deepening now up to Congress

MOL Maxim being worked at the Port of Charleston last month. Maxim is among the new larger ships that ports officials believe will benefit from the deepening.

MOL Maxim being worked at the Port of Charleston last month. Maxim is among the new larger ships that ports officials believe will benefit from the deepening.

A proposal that would deepen Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel down to 52 feet is now in the hands of Congress.

The Assistant Secretary of the Army for civil works Jo-Ellen Darcy on Wednesday gave formal recognition that the requirements for a $521 million dredging plan by the US Army Corps of Engineers are now satisfied. That decision notifies Congress the project is now eligible for funding. The Corps recently finished a four-year feasibility study.

“That was pretty much the last step in our feasibility study process,” the project’s former lead manager Brian Williams told South Carolina Radio Network. “And that enables Congress to then act on that report, if they so choose.”

Both the Corps and South Carolina ports officials are requesting the harbor deepening in order to handle new, larger container ships that are beginning to arrive on the East Coast. Such ships must now wait until high tide before delivering cargo.

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Former Columbia councilman pleads guilty to tax charges, gets probation

Former Columbia councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman (Image: City of Columbia)

Former Columbia councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman (Image: City of Columbia)

A former Columbia city councilman will avoid prison after pleading guilty Tuesday to charges that he failed to pay his taxes over a two year period.

Brian DeQuincey Newman turned himself in to authorities Tuesday morning, in a move orchestrated to occur just hours before his guilty plea that afternoon. Newman served for a single term and did not seek reelection in 2015.

The state Department of Revenue (SCDOR) said Newman failed to timely report approximately $201,000 of income in 2012 and 2013. He pleaded guilty Tuesday to two counts of willful failure to file a tax return in either of those years. He had faced up to two years in jail and $20,000 in total fines. Circuit Judge Cordell Maddox instead ordered the former councilman to pay more than $10,800 in restitution and handed down two years probation. However, that probation will be reduced to just six months upon payment of the restitution.

SCDOR officials said Newman did not file a state tax return on more than $201,000 in income during 2013 and 2014. They discovered the unreported income last year while auditing how Richland County handled revenues from a 2012 sales tax increase. Known as the “Penny Tax,” revenue from the additional one percent tax were to go toward transportation needs in Richland County.

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Two Richland County politicians face tax charges after state audit

Former Columbia councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman (Image: City of Columbia)

Former Columbia councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman (Image: City of Columbia)

Two Columbia-area politicians have been arrested on tax charges, in a case that appears to stem from an investigation into how Richland County used money from a recent sales tax increase.

Richland County Councilman Kelvin Washington and former Columbia city councilman Brian DeQuincey Newman were each charged Tuesday with failure to file taxes over the past three years. Both have turned themselves in and were released on bond.

“The public deserves accountability from its government and elected officials,” Department of Revenue director Rick Reames said in a statement. “The Department will force this accountability by taking action against those who violate the law.”

The state Department of Revenue said Newman failed to timely report approximately $201,000 of income in 2012 and 2013. He faces two counts of willful failure to file a tax return in either of those years. He faces up to two years in jail and $20,000 in total fines.

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Medal of Honor winner charged in hit-and-run

Carpenter receiving the Medal of Honor last year (Image: White House)

Carpenter receiving the Medal of Honor last year (Image: White House)

A medically retired Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in Afghanistan five years ago is now facing two misdemeanor charges following a hit-and-run earlier this month.

Columbia Police announced the charges in a statement Thursday. 26-year-old retired Cpl. Kyle Carpenter is accused of making an improper left turn and injuring a pedestrian near the University of South Carolina campus on Dec. 8. Police said Carpenter initially stopped after the collision, but left the scene after the pedestrian got up and walked to the curb.

A police report said Carpenter left the scene without providing his contact information or providing aid to the victim as the law requires. The victim had a leg injury and scrapes and was treated by EMS at the scene, but did not go to the hospital.

Carpenter’s attorney Butch Bowers sent an email to news outlets after the arrest. Bowers said his client had assumed the pedestrian was okay after seeing him walk away. Bowers said Carpenter has taken responsibility for what happened.

“Kyle looks forward to continuing his education at USC and working with young people to make sure they stand up for what is right and take responsibility for their actions, just as he has done in this instance,” Bowers said.

Police investigators reviewed surveillance tapes and witness statements to determine the car belonged to Carpenter. They said the retired Marine has cooperated with their investigation and turned himself in Thursday. He was released on bond.

Carpenter survived life-threatening injuries after he threw his body in front of a grenade to save a fellow Marine in November 2010. He lost his right eye in the explosion and suffered severe injuries to his face and right arm.

President Obama awarded Carpenter the Medal of Honor last year in recognition of his actions.