Doris Holt's Interview at Age 91 Before Being Kidnapped
The following is Doris E. Holt and James B. Spencer's story as published in a series of articles by Paul Gable in February 2011 at SCHotline.
Click here for an expert report on the case by John A. O'Leary of O'Leary Associates, P.A., dated February 19, 2007, written pursuant to the request of John R. Rakowsky, counsel for James B. Spencer at that time.THE ILLEGAL ARREST OF JAMES B. SPENCER AND THE ILLEGAL SEIZURE OF HIS PROPERTY
How did the actions of a few law enforcement officers in Horry County, South Carolina, associated with the attempted takeover of a small corporation called Southern Holdings, lead to a massive cover up at the federal, state and local levels and the abduction of 93-year-old Doris Holt by the Department of Social Services in the State of South Carolina?
As we learned over 35 years ago with the Nixon administration and Watergate, the cover up is often much worse than the original crime. This is again true in the Southern Holdings case, but the difference is that this time it was three levels of government conspiring within the legal system to deny justice to a group of average citizens.
Since 1980, after his father’s passing, James B. Spencer (formerly known as Robert Brian Holt) had been the appointed durable power-of-attorney of his mother, Doris Holt. Since 1983, Spencer had nursed his mother at his home through two cancer surgeries and a series of strokes. She resided with Spencer in his home in South Carolina.
In the Spring of 2000, Spencer was the president of Southern Holdings, a 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. The key to the cigarette contracts is that they were the property of the person or business in possession of them rather than between specific persons or corporations, as would be the case with business contracts in the U.S.
After Southern Holdings gained the rights to these contracts, former Southern Holdings shareholder Ancil B. Garvin, III, also a resident of Horry County at the time, attempted to get Southern Holdings President James Spencer to cut the remaining shareholders out of the cigarette contracts.
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.”
Garvin then entered into a conspiracy with David Smith, another former Southern Holdings stockholder, to illegally gain control of the corporation from Spencer, because, as president of Southern Holdings, he had possession of the lucrative South American cigarette contracts, along with rights to an offshore bank account.
In a memo dated May 18, 2000, Garvin outlined his plans to take over the corporation. The memo recipients were:
1. David Smith, a former Southern Holdings stockholder,
2. Harold Steven “Steve” Hartness, a North Carolina private investigator, and
3. Ernest Morton, a Guilford County, North Carolina attorney.
Note: Hartness is currently serving a federal prison sentence for fraud, conspiracy and other charges from a related type of case in Asheville, North Carolina.In the memo, Garvin refers to a “Dr. Lawrence” who had treated Spencer for un-named medical conditions. In addition, Spencer had a contract to provide business management services to Dr. Lawrence’s medical practice.
Garvin wrote in the memo:
“During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, she (Dr. Lawrence) accidentally screwed up his (Spencer) medical treatment. This worked to her benefit when she was able to get out of her contracts by stealing them from his (Spencer) mother’s (Doris Holt) home. He (Spencer) was so sick and paranoid from her (Lawrence) medical treatment he was unable to understand what was happening around him or to his mother.” [Parenthetical names added to quotes from original text for clarification.]
“I think we can use this medical information to our advantage when we steal Southern Holdings from him. I say let’s move ahead and use his medical condition to gain the contracts … with RJ Reynolds, the … deal with Patel and the offshore bank…”Garvin concluded the memo with an outline of how he planned to use individuals in the criminal justice system in North Carolina to help him with his takeover of Southern Holdings.
Garvin continued in the memo:
“Dickie (Way) and I will attempt to trick him (Spencer) to North Carolina and have them eliminate him from the picture permanently or somehow get him in jail there. The DA in Guilford County stopped all police protection for he and his mother. . . I am going to give Panosh (Guilford County Assistant District Attorney) a call and see if he can help us pull some strings if Dickie and I can get him to North Carolina. Some of those shareholders he has are weak and we can intimidate them and do the same thing here as happened in Guilford County.”The final paragraph in Garvin’s memo provides a chilling statement of what was to come.
“That is why we have nothing to worry about what we do to (Spencer) and the stockholders who do not go along with us. The courts and the lawyers will protect us no matter what we do to the ‘little people.’ It will never get to a jury and, if it does, the judge will never let the truth be heard.”Note: The Garvin memo was introduced as Plaintiff’s Exhibit Number 11 into a lawsuit that followed the actions of Garvin and his co-conspirators. The lawsuit is titled Southern Holdings et al. v. Horry County et al, which was filed on May 29, 2002.
After setting down his plan in his May 18, 2000 memo, Garvin was ready to move forward by early June 2000.
He had not been successful in “luring” Spencer to North Carolina, so Garvin enlisted the aid of North Carolina’s Guilford County sheriff’s deputy J. L. Zimmerman and Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Richard Panosh to have an illegal entry concerning Spencer placed into the FBI’s National Crime Information Center computer.
This is the same Panosh that Garvin mentioned in his May 18, 2000 memo.
Panosh signed a letter on June 6, 2000 saying,
Spencer was “wanted in Guilford County, North Carolina for the charges of Civil Contempt with a cash bond of $31,834.00, which is a felony under North Carolina law.”The letter continued,
“We will extradite the above named defendant in the event he or she is arrested and will not waive extradition to North Carolina.”There is one glaring problem with the letter: After a complete search of court records, it was found that no warrant for Spencer, on that or any other charge, was ever issued in Guilford County, North Carolina.
Additionally, the space for “Case Assigned to” is blank on the Panosh letter, and the space for the “Law Enforcement Activity Number” for the Guilford County Sheriff Department is also blank.
Panosh signed an extradition letter for a case that had no number and was not assigned to anyone!
In a deposition for the Southern Holdings case, the following questions to and answers from Panosh demonstrate the illegality of the NCIC entry:
Question (to Panosh): First of all, you would agree with me that civil contempt is not a felony under North Carolina law, correct?It is obvious from the above questions and answers that Panosh knew the civil contempt charge was not a felony and there was no reason to sign an extradition letter. Yet he did, after allegedly receiving a call from Garvin.
Answer (from Panosh): Signing this was an error.
Question: Prior to executing Exhibit No. 1 (the Panosh letter of June 6, 2000) had you ever signed a letter for extradition on anyone else on a civil contempt charge?
Answer: I can’t tell you why I signed this letter. I can tell you I signed it. Probably had a lot of other things going on that day. I don’t know why—what went through my mind at the time I signed the document.
Zimmerman entered the charge and extradition notification into the NCIC system under number W440771233. Zimmerman admitted he did the NCIC entry during a deposition for the Southern Holdings case.
On June 7, 2000, Horry County sheriff’s deputy Al Allen (now the Horry County Council District 11 Representative) obtained a Search Warrant based on the bogus and illegal NCIC entry.
In a deposition for the Southern Holdings case, Allen admitted he had spoken to “someone” from North Carolina before obtaining the warrant. Allen also admitted he did nothing to confirm that the charge of Civil Contempt was a felony punishable by at least one year in jail as is required by South Carolina Statute 17-9-10.
One of the major behind-the-scenes players in the initial Southern Holdings conspiracy was North Carolina private investigator Harold Steven Hartness. While Ancil Garvin, III concocted the scheme to illegally gain control of the assets of Southern Holdings, the main person he turned to for help in carrying out the plan was Hartness.
Hartness was included as a recipient of Garvin’s May 18, 2000 memo, outlining Garvin’s intentions.
Hartness can be thought of as an important facilitator in the actions that led to the illegal June 2000 Horry County search and arrest warrants and a later August 2000 Horry County illegal arrest of Southern Holdings President James Spencer.
Note: The criminal actions of Garvin and his cohorts in June and August of 2000 against James B. Spencer caused the value of Southern Holdings, Inc. stock to drop from $33.70 per share to $0.00. Spencer was not at home when Horry County law enforcement officers executed a bogus arrest warrant for him at his home on June 7, 2000, but his mother was. The officers "left with several boxes of corporate secrets involving the assets and property of Southern Holdings Inc. (a NV corporation), a tobacco company, as well as its subsidiaries. This included information regarding all property in storage as to the retail stores (all property went missing immediately thereafter) and information containing the whereabouts of the $8,000,000 in bearer bonds owned by Southern Holdings, which were acquired during the merger and acquisition of Ivestra, S.A, a Venezuelan corporation (holder of exclusive import license issued by the government for RJR Nabisco tobacco products, which are in high demand in that country). Southern Holdings folded later that month in the year 2000. Horry County was desperate to get Doris Holt out of the case at all costs." [Source]The Recipe for Public Corruption in Horry County, SC?
According to information provided in Hartness’ notebook (court record entry number 310-25 in Southern Holdings vs. Horry County) of his expenses and actions with respect to Southern Holdings, Hartness acted as the conduit between the Guilford County, North Carolina and Horry County, South Carolina law enforcement officers involved in the incidents leading to the illegal arrest of Spencer.
Hartness was known by:
1. J. L. Zimmerman, a sheriff’s deputy in Guilford County, North Carolina
2. Richard Panosh, Assistant District Attorney in Guilford County, North Carolina
3. Dickie Way, a former police commissioner in Horry County, South Carolina
4. Billie Richardson, former Horry County Clerk of Courts and former father-in-law to Dickie Way
Among the notes in Hartness’ notebook was one that read,
“Billie will hook us to a judge at our convenience. See Dickie first, then Billie, and then the judge! Dickie was the police commissioner 1976.”Notes from Hartness’ notebook for June 6, 2000 read,
“Tuesday 6/6/00 – 8:30 am Phone work, paperwork then got a call that Zimmerman had arranged the arrest. Left to beach 1:30 pm arrived 7 pm.”The above notes from the Hartness notebook leave no doubt that he was in contact with Guilford County, North Carolina Deputy Sheriff Zimmerman after the illegal entry on Spencer was placed in the NCIC.
Note: Zimmerman was the one who entered the false charge and extradition notification into the NCIC, which he admitted during a deposition for the Southern Holdings case filed on May 29, 2002.
Upon learning this, Hartness immediately left for “the beach” to coordinate and be present with Horry County, South Carolina sheriff’s deputies when they served the illegally obtained warrants to search for Spencer and arrest him.
On June 7, 2000, Horry County sheriff’s deputy Al Allen (now the Horry County Council District 11 Representative) obtained a Search Warrant based on the bogus and illegal NCIC entry.
In a deposition for the Southern Holdings case, Allen admitted he had spoken to “someone” from North Carolina before obtaining the warrant. Allen also admitted he did nothing to confirm that the charge of Civil Contempt was a felony punishable by at least one year in jail as is required by South Carolina Statute 17-9-10. [Much of Allen’s deposition contained vague answers from him and many statements, such as “I don’t recall.”]
Note: In a September 3, 1993 memorandum, Horry County Sheriff John T. “Teddy” Henry listed five requirements his deputies must meet in order to obtain a fugitive warrant. These are: Date of the Offense; Jurisdiction of Horry County Sheriff’s Office; Originating Jurisdiction; Originating Charge and Potential Sentence. Allen failed to complete at least two of the five – potential sentence because he failed to confirm that the sentence was at least one year in North Carolina (it wasn’t even if the charge had been legal) and jurisdiction of Horry County because he did not independently confirm the accuracy and legality of the NCIC entry.In his deposition, Allen claimed that he obtained both an arrest warrant for Spencer and a search warrant for Doris Holt’s home. The warrants were issued by Magistrate Dennis E. Phipps on June 7, 2000, according to court records.
Allen also admitted to speaking to “two men from North Carolina” prior to searching Holt’s home.
The warrant to search the home of Spencer and his mother on June 7, 2000 was used by Horry County Sheriff’s deputy Jeffrey Caldwell, accompanied by:
1. J. L. Zimmerman, a sheriff’s deputy in Guilford County, North Carolina
2. Harold Steven “Steve” Hartness, a North Carolina private investigator hired by main conspirator, Ancil B. Garvin, III3. Al Allen, a sheriff’s deputy in Horry County, South Carolina
4. Rick Thompson, a sheriff’s deputy in Horry County, South Carolina
Spencer was on a business trip to Atlanta on June 7, 2000.
The residence was the only place listed on the search warrant and the only property sought was James Spencer. However, the court pleadings, backed by affidavits by Holt and Spencer, mention corporate records and equipment, as well as jewelry owned by Spencer, all being removed, even though none of that property was mentioned on the warrant as being sought.
While some Southern Holdings corporate records and equipment were removed by deputies on June 7, 2000, they did not get Spencer because he was out of state.
According to court records, the deputies further searched the homes of Ricky and Marguerite Stephens and Irene Santacroce on June 7, 2000, without a “warrant to search” for those dwellings or “probable cause” to believe Spencer was at either.
Allen testified to speaking with Spencer on the telephone on June 7, 2000 and informing him of the warrants. Nevertheless, all three homes were searched even though the deputies knew Spencer was out of state.
After he returned to South Carolina, Spencer moved quickly to have the illegal NCIC entry removed from the computer system.
On July 10, 2000, Hon. Sidney T. Floyd conducted a hearing on a Motion and Petition to Dismiss Fugitive Warrant for Spencer. Judge Floyd issued an order with the following findings (the order is signed Honorable Sidney T. Floyd, Resident Judge 15th Judicial Circuit):
“This court finds, as a matter of law, that civil contempt is not a criminal offense within the meaning of S.C. Code Ann. 17-19-10 et. seq. …Neither criminal contempt nor civil contempt under the North Carolina General Statutes Article I, Sections 5A-12 and 5A-11(8) on Article 2, Section 5A-21 (civil contempt) have a penalty of one year or more as required under S.C. Code Ann. 17-9-10.Thus, Garvin’s first attempt to get Spencer back into North Carolina failed. That this attempt contained an illegal entry into the NCIC, and the disregarding of the law by those sworn to uphold it, only serves as a prelude of what was to come.
“As a result of this hearing and findings able, it is hereby ORDERED, ADJUDGED, and DECREED that the Fugitive Warrant G-107489 is hereby dismissed and ordered to be removed from the NCIC forthwith.”
After the first attempt to “get” Spencer failed on June 7, 2000, Hartness kept working on getting the corporate records and Spencer.
Note: Due to his knowledge of public corruption, and for the safety of his mother and himself, under advice of counsel, Spencer legally changed his name from Robert Brian Holt to James B. Spencer.A note from Hartness’ notebook for June 8, 2000 reads,
“$4500 at this (word illegible). EH (Ernest H. Morton) sending $1500 each. 2 weeks till we arrest (Spencer).”
Note: Ernest H. Morton was the attorney who was also named as an addressee of Garvin’s May 18, 2000 memo.After the fugitive arrest warrant for Spencer was dismissed by Judge Sidney Floyd on July 10, 2000, Hartness and his co-conspirators had no basis they could even claim were legal for getting Spencer, but he continued anyway.
Hartness broke into Spencer’s home in early July 2000 (Doris Holt had been moved to a secure location in late June 2000 out of concern for her safety), according to evidence in the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County lawsuit filed on May 29, 2002.
Note: Within seven months of the filing of his deposition in the Southern Holding vs. Horry County lawsuit, Hartness would be indicted, and ultimately plead guilty to (in the federal criminal case), just the types of actions he was alleged to have committed in the Southern Holdings case.
In July 2007, Hartness was indicted by a Federal Grand Jury, arrested and charged with crimes that were similar in nature and substance with the cover-up and fraud upon the court alleged in the Southern Holdings case.
According to court records, Hartness’ illegal actions included the unauthorized wiring of the parking garage of a Federal Court House with video cameras to record who was testifying before a Federal Grand Jury. This was part of a plan to cover up the bribing of public officials, including Sheriffs and Sheriff’s deputies, in a coordinated action to subvert the legal system.
Hartness also held training seminars to teach the art of effective lying to witnesses about to give testimony to a Federal Grand Jury, and Hartness was found guilty of intimidation of witnesses to force them to cooperate in the cover up of this wide spread criminal conspiracy through acts of fraud on the court.
Hartness confessed to and was convicted of the crimes for which he was indicted. He is now serving a multi-year prison sentence in a federal penitentiary.
As Hartness’ involvement in the case was heard in court, two judges and an Assistant US Attorney were moved to make statements about Hartness’ actions and his attempts to subvert the U.S. system of justice. Magistrate Judge Dennis Howell stated in open court during Harold Steve Hartness’ detention hearing on August 3, 2007:
“He [Harold Steve Hartness] may have been doing what he was hired to do, but this went way beyond investigatory techniques. He [Harold Steve Hartness] is a danger to our system of justice.”
In a similar vein, at the February 13, 2008 sentencing hearing for Hartness held before The Honorable Thomas Selby Ellis, III, Federal District Court Judge, Assistant US Attorney Richard Edwards said:Spencer and another Southern Holdings stockholder, Rodney Lail, who is also a former Myrtle Beach police officer, were in Horry County in early August 2000, accompanied by Haywood Starling, former director of the N.C. State Bureau of Investigations.
“Your Honor, in all the years in this office, the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office, and at main justice in D.C., I’ve never seen a scheme like this one, the extensiveness of it, the interference with the investigation.”Judge Ellis responded,
“I have an idea we haven’t seen the end of it.”Edwards replied:
“Yes, sir. And it’s deeply disturbing because, as the Court has mentioned, it basically throws a monkey wrench into the works that we have. There are certain things that we have to rely on in the criminal justice system working and law enforcement working, and in this overall investigation, both of those have been subverted.
“Mr. Hartness, for the reasons I’ve said before, while the government’s position was not that he was the overall instigator of it necessarily, was clearly the essential tool through which part of this scheme was being done.”
The threesome was looking for evidence to accompany a complaint Spencer intended to file in Horry County.
On August 5, 2000, Lail called the Horry County Police Department (HCPD) to inquire about filing an incident report on property removed from the Holt home during the June 7, 2000 illegal search of Spencer’s home by Horry County sheriff’s deputies and the early July 2000 break-in of Spencer’s home by Hartness.
When the persons involved were deposed for the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County lawsuit filed on May 29, 2002, they all tried to present their actions as legal. However, Guilford County Assistant District Attorney Panosh said his signing of an extradition letter for Spencer was “a mistake,” and Horry County Deputy Sheriff Al Allen did not follow department procedures in obtaining the search and arrest warrants for Spencer’s home and Spencer.
Here we see that Hartness was involved with the illegal actions in both North Carolina and South Carolina. That Hartness was aware of the purpose of these actions (obtaining the cigarette licenses) came out in his deposition for the Southern Holdings case.
During the deposition given by Hartness for the Southern Holdings case (court record entry number 314-2, filed January 25, 2007), he stated:
“Because there ain’t anybody in this crowd going to send any cigarettes to Venezuela and live through it according to what I’m told.”Hartness was also alleged to have been involved in threats against Spencer and Southern Holdings Plaintiffs Irene Santacroce and Marguerite Stephens. This was also addressed in his deposition.
During the deposition, Hartness was asked by attorney Jay Saleeby, representing the defendants, including Hartness:
“Let me ask you, have there ever been any other incidents that you were involved – been involved in – anything with the Plaintiffs here today, but any other incidents where its ever been alleged that you either harassed somebody or ever left threatening messages or anything like that?”Hartness answered,
“Oh, no, I’ve never – that’s not my style; I never did that.”However, this was not the only case of this type in which Hartness was involved. At the same time Hartness was giving a deposition for the Southern Holdings case, he was also involved in a federal criminal case in western North Carolina.
According to court records, on August 5, 2000, Rodney Lail spoke with Horry County Police Department (HCPD) officer Charles McLendon (photo below), who stated Spencer would have to appear in person to file the incident report.
The evidence further shows McLendon spoke with an HCPD dispatcher, during the August 5, 2000 conversation with Lail, and confirmed that no warrants were outstanding for Spencer’s arrest.
This is an important point because of what happened the next day.
According to Horry County records, on August 6, 2000 Spencer and Lail were stopped in Spencer’s Mitsubishi Montero by HCPD officers Charles McLendon and James Brantley.
McLendon’s incident report of the August 6, 2000 traffic stop states:
“The R/O (responding officer) was contacted by Deputy Rick Thompson who stated a Mr. James B. Spencer was in a beige Mits. Montero Sport and that he was possibly wanted and armed and dangerous.”
Note: Thompson was one of the Horry County deputy sheriffs involved in the illegal searches of Spencer’s home on June 7, 2000.According to recordings of radio communications with HCPD dispatch, the stopping officers, McLendon and Brantley, said Spencer was “a fugitive from the law and to be considered armed and dangerous.”
The officers were instructed “to use high risk felony procedures to arrest Spencer.”
McLendon and Brantly ordered Lail and Spencer out of the car at gunpoint.
According to electronic recordings of conversations between McLendon, Brantly and HCPD dispatch, all exhibits in the case, McLendon asked HCPD to “locate the warrant for Spencer’s arrest.”
The traffic stop and radio communications took place despite:
1. McLendon confirming the day before that no there were no outstanding warrants against Spencer, and
2. Horry County Sheriff’s Department having been ordered by Judge Floyd to remove the false entries about Spencer from the NCIC nearly one month earlier.
HCPD Sgt. Andy Christenson arrived on the scene to supervise during the stop.
After several checks of NCIC proved negative for outstanding warrants on Spencer, a call to Guilford County, North Carolina, was made by HCPD dispatch. An officer with North Carolina’s Guilford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed there were no outstanding warrants for Spencer.
The transcripts of the conversations between HCPD dispatch and the on-scene officers (filed as Plaintiffs entry number 310-5 with the court):
The transcript lists an “unknown individual” at the arrest scene talking to Christenson and McLendon.However, Spencer was not let go.
The unknown individual is listed as saying “I got in touch with Al Allen, he’s standing on here.”
Christenson responded, “Tell him we’re letting him go. We ain’t got nothing to hold him on.”
Note: Horry County sheriff’s deputy Al Allen obtained the June 7, 2000 Search Warrant of Spencer’s home to arrest him based on the bogus and illegal NCIC entry.
The unknown individual was later identified on the police videotapes, recorded at the time of the traffic stop, as Hartness’ son Michael Hartness.
Instead, his vehicle was searched and he was later arrested for “an outstanding warrant and possession of an illegal firearm” after being held in the back of a police car for seven and one-half hours.
The illegal firearm was not illegal at all, but, rather, part of a gun collection owned by Spencer that was legally broken down and stored in the back of the Montero.
But HCPD needed some kind of an excuse to arrest Spencer.
McLendon filed his original incident report dated August 6, 2000 on which he listed the incident beginning at 1200 hours and finishing at 1930 hours. He listed the illegal possession of a firearm and false identification (also a bogus charge) as reasons for the arrest.
On August 9, 2000, McLendon filed a second incident report of the arrest with the warrant also listed as a reason for arrest and the times of the incident reduced to beginning at 1200 hours and ending at 1330 hours. This second incident report was, evidently, intended to replace the original incident report. Unfortunately for HCPD, both incident reports, with their discrepancies, remained in HCPD files and were obtained with subpoenas.
According to court records, on April 20, 2001, a preliminary hearing was held for the charges against Spencer. The presiding judge dismissed the charges for lack of probable cause.
The police videotapes of the traffic stop would become key pieces of evidence in the Southern Holdings case and would be at the center of the forthcoming conspiracy to cover-up evidence.
The reason the videotapes of the traffic stop are so important is:
1. They would provide independent evidence that Horry County police conducted a search of the vehicle 45 minutes before requesting permission to do so.This evidence is corroborated in a deposition given by a witness for the plaintiffs, who was observing the scene the whole time.
2. They would show that Spencer was kept handcuffed in the back of a police car, with no air conditioning and the windows up during a sunny August day, for a period of seven and one-half hours.
3. They would show evidence that Spencer, while handcuffed and in the backseat of the vehicle, was the recipient of a stun gun charge at least five times and, on several occasions, had a pistol placed his head.
The videotapes would provide graphic evidence of the claims Spencer made in his lawsuit against Horry County and would substantiate the statements of other witnesses to the events.
After Spencer’s illegal arrest on August 6, 2000, attempts began almost immediately to get the original, unedited videotapes from both the Brantley and McLendon police vehicles, automatically taped during the August 6th traffic stop and arrest.
At that time, Horry County police vehicles had Mobile Vision in-car video cameras installed to provide videotape records of each traffic stop or other incident. According to information provided in depositions, the camera automatically begins recording when the blue lights on the car come on and continues recording until the lights are turned off.
Both Brantley’s and McLendon’s vehicle cameras were recording during the August 6th incident.
The attempts to get the original, unedited videotapes from both vehicles began on August 14, 2000 with a subpoena by Spencer’s attorney, Ralph Wilson, who was representing Spencer for his August 6, 2000 illegal arrest by HCPD officers.
The defendants’ supplied only one videotape and this from the police cruiser driven to the scene by HCPD officer McLendon.
Wilson again requested the original tape from Brantley’s car on September 5, 2000. A videotape sent in response to this second request was determined to have been edited.
On October 3, 2000, Wilson again requested the unedited Brantley videotape. On October 9, 2000, HCPD Chief Paul Goward responded that the department could not produce the videotape for inspection because SLED had confiscated it.
After several continuances requested by Horry County, all charges against Spencer from the August 6, 2000 incident were dropped due to “lack of probable cause”, according to court records.
It is important to remember at the time of both Hammersley’s and Weaver’s letters, there was no case against Spencer because charges had already been dropped. It is also impossible to determine why the requested information was sent to Horry County Solicitor Hembree, as stated in Hammersley’s letter, again, because there was no active case against Spencer.
Pertinent excerpts from the S.C. Freedom of Information Act state:
SECTION 30-4-15. Findings and purpose.It is obvious from the above excerpts that Horry County had no legal reason to keep any of the requested information from Spencer, Lail or Santacroce. There was no active case so there could be no “premature release” of the information to harm the police department. Weaver’s statements in his letter certainly appear to be counter to the intent of the law to have “minimum cost or delay” to persons seeking access to public documents.
“The General Assembly finds that it is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that citizens shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in the formulation of public policy. Toward this end, provisions of this chapter must be construed so as to make it possible for citizens, or their representatives, to learn and report fully the activities of their public officials at a minimum cost or delay to the persons seeking access to public documents or meetings.”
“SECTION 30-4-40. Matters exempt from disclosure.
(a) A public body may but is not required to exempt from disclosure the following information:
(3) Records of law enforcement and public safety agencies not otherwise available by state and federal law that were compiled in the process of detecting and investigating crime if the disclosure of the information would harm the agency by: (B) the premature release of information to be used in a prospective law enforcement action.”
Thus began the delays by the defendants in producing the original, unedited videotapes of the August 6, 2000 incident.
To this date, original, unedited videotapes have never been produced. The defendants continued to delay, defer and obfuscate these vital pieces of evidence as the conspiracy and cover-up broadened.
On February 21, 2001, Spencer met with FBI agent Tom Marsh in the Columbia FBI field office to report civil rights violations “under color of law” with respect to the June 7, 2000 and August 6, 2000 incidents, including the active participation of Horry County Sheriff’s deputies and police officers.
Marsh took a report from Spencer with two SLED agents in attendance, even though the inclusion of the SLED agents in the interview is a violation of FBI protocols as established in the FBI-Manual of Investigative and Operational Guidelines (MIOG).
The SLED agents at the interview were Michael Prodan and Captain Larry Gainey, who were there under the specific direction of Captain David Caldwell of SLED.
The FBI MIOG provides that allegations of civil rights violations under color of law are to be kept within the FBI civil rights division. Under no circumstances are any outside agencies or individuals to be notified by FBI personnel until the investigation is completed.
FBI MIOG regulations say notice of civil rights violations “under color of law” must be reported to FBI headquarters within five days and a report of the investigation of these alleged violations must be sent to FBI HQ within 21 days. Marsh sent neither the notification report nor the follow up report. Instead, he turned the evidence provided by Spencer over to the SLED agents, all in violation of FBI regulations.
During the meeting while Spencer was present, Marsh ran an NCIC report on Spencer and showed it to Spencer.
Later, any information about the February 21, 2001 meeting with Spencer disappeared from FBI files.
This was confirmed by two Freedom of Information Act requests sent to the FBI in 2005 and 2006 as evidence was being gathered for the Southern Holdings lawsuit. The requests asked for all records of the February 21, 2001 meeting with Marsh and other records and status of the investigation.
In response to both requests, FBI Section Chief David M. Hardy said no records exist of any nature including, but not limited to, the civil rights complaint and/or any complaint filed by James Spencer. The responses from Hardy are dated November 10, 2005 and February 16, 2006, respectively.
A federal subpoena served on SLED showed SLED opened a case file based on the February 21, 2001 FBI meeting with Spencer and Marsh and, subsequently, within five working days, closed the case and stored the copies of the police videotapes and audiotapes they had wrongfully been given by Marsh.
Marsh’s violation of the MIOG regulations with regard to the complaint and evidence provided by Spencer is confirmed by SLED files received under subpoena.
These SLED files included a property receipt dated February 28, 2001 and signed by Cindy E. Black of SLED: The receipt is for police videotapes and audiotapes of the August 6, 2000 traffic stop of Spencer received from SLED agent Prodan.
In order to confirm the meeting with Marsh took place, Spencer asked Sen. Lindsey Graham to inquire of the FBI all requests to the National Crime Information Center regarding Spencer.
The response to Sen. Graham’s inquiry was received from and certified as official by Michael D. Kirkpatrick, Assistant Director of the Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS), included a February 21, 2001 request on Spencer from the Columbia field office of the FBI. This was the same report Marsh showed to Spencer during their meeting.
Within months of meeting with Spencer, Marsh retired from the FBI and went to work as a director of security for the S.C. Treasury Department overseeing security for the S.C. Education Lottery.
The tragedy with this episode is that if Marsh had followed FBI protocol and reported Spencer’s complaint up the chain, as required by the FBI MIOG, much of what came later could have been avoided.
The cover-up and tampering with evidence, which was apparently taking place at the local level, could have been stopped with minimal difficulty for the plaintiffs. Possibly a few bent police officers or deputy sheriffs would have suffered consequences from their actions, but the greater tragedy that befell Doris Holt, Spencer and the other plaintiffs could have been avoided.
Why did Marsh ignore regulations? This is a question that begs asking in a deposition. Was it for a job with the state? Only Marsh knows.
However, the more probable answer, and one that appears to be born out by evidence later discovered, is that the FBI was too interested in protecting the reputation of its Criminal Justice Information System.
To actually acknowledge the ease with which one sheriff’s deputy in Guilford County, North.Carolina entered false information into the NCIC, and the ease with which several Horry County sheriff’s deputies and police officers used this bogus entry as justification to violate Spencer and Holt’s Constitutional rights, would have brought the integrity of the whole system into question.
Rather than go through that process, it was determined, by someone at the FBI, that it was much better to bury the complaint.
This action would lead to increasingly bold actions on the part of defendants in the lawsuit to alter, hide and lie about facts in the case.
In May 2001, Spencer, Lail and Santacroce each sent requests to Horry County for documents and the related videotapes related to Spencer’s arrest, under provisions of the SC Freedom of Information Act.
According to a letter dated May 3, 2001, from Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Hammersley (now Lisa Bourcier) to Horry County Solicitor Gregg Hembree, the information requested in the FOIA requests was sent to Hembree. The letter also states that Hammersley was told by the Horry County Sheriff’s Office and HCPD that “SLED is in possession of the video and they do not have any copies of any videotapes in their departments.”
Note: The statement about the videotapes being sent to SLED is refuted in a letter dated April 19, 2004, to Santacroce from Michael Prodan, Special Agent for the State Law Enforcement Division, in which Prodan states “The State Law Enforcement Division does not have, nor ever had possession of the original videotapes or audiotapes of the August 6, 2000 arrest of James Spencer.”Hammersley’s letter also mentions a charge of $49.90 to Spencer for the information requested in the FOIA request. In a letter from Horry County Attorney John Weaver to Spencer, Lail and Santacroce, dated May 13, 2001, that charge was raised to a deposit of $750.00 per person for the information. Weaver also stated after the $750 from Spencer, Lail and Santacroce was received, he would make “a legal determination as to what documents, and at what cost to you, are available under the Freedom of Information Act.”
John Weaver to Resign Over Cover-up of HCPD Evidence Scandal
Over the next two years, a main focus of the plaintiffs was to obtain the original, unedited videotapes of the August 6, 2000 incident, recorded in the Brantley and McLendon police cars, especially the videotape from the Brantley vehicle.
The Brantley videotape of the August 6, 2000 stop and arrest of Spencer was a key piece of evidence for the plaintiffs in to file a lawsuit against Horry County for violating Spencer’s civil rights on both June 7, 2000 and August 6, 2000. An unedited, original videotape would show scenes of what actually happened to Spencer during the incident on August 6, 2000, corroborating witness affidavits. An edited videotape would provide proof of the defendants’ spoliation of evidence.
As early as August 14, 2000, Spencer’s defense attorney and former Horry County Solicitor Ralph Wilson issued subpoenas for “all Horry County police videotapes recorded at the scene on August 6, 2000 and the Horry County Dispatch recordings made on August 5, 2000 and August 6, 2000. The subpoenas required the “protection and preservation of all the actual, original subpoenaed videotapes and audiotapes in custody of Horry County.”
Wilson never received these subpoenaed tapes.
Instead, he was notified by then Horry County Police Chief Goward that the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had confiscated the original audiotapes and videotapes and, therefore, Horry County could not provide them for inspection. This claim was backed up by a May 3, 2001 memo from Horry County Public Information Officer Lisa Hammersley to Horry County Solicitor Greg Hembree.
In the memo, Hammersley states: “The Sheriff and Police Departments both said that SLED is in possession of the video and they do not have any copies of any videotapes in their departments.”
Note: In a letter dated April 19, 2004, SLED Special Agent Michael Prodan states:After failing to get the original videotapes of the August 6, 2000 traffic stop of Spencer and Lail, and after failing to get any cooperation from the FBI to investigate the various constitutional rights violations associated with June 7, 2000 and August 6, 2000, the original Southern Holdings lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court on May 29, 2002 (Southern Holdings et al. v. Horry County et al.).
“The State Law Enforcement Division does not have, nor ever had possession of the original videotapes or audiotapes of the arrest of James Spencer on August 6, 2000.”
Suspect visual and audio anomalies on the Brantley videotape (that were manifestly evident, according to the plaintiffs’ videotape analysis expert Steve Cain) contributed to the plaintiffs’ continuing to attempt to obtain the unedited, original Brantley police videotape along with the recorder employed to record the sought after unedited Brantley police videotape for analysis by the plaintiffs’ forensic expert.
The Horry County Police Chief said SLED confiscated the original tapes while SLED said it did not.
Brantley, on the other hand, swears that he had the original tape in his possession from August 6, 2000 until August 19, 2003 when he (a) turned it over to the Horry County Police evidence locker or (b) to the Aiken Bridges law firm – take your pick.
Plaintiffs expert Steve Cain had already analyzed a copy of the videotape from the Brantley vehicle.
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.
During a May 11, 2004 deposition of Brantley, a much different description of the location of the August 6, 2000 original videotape from his car came out.
The following is a copy of the transcript of Brantley’s sworn deposition with regard to the original Brantley videotape. Brantley states he turned the videotape over to the Horry County Police Evidence room on August 19, 2003 – three years after the illegal arrest of Spencer and one day after he learned he would be required to provide a deposition in the case.
“Q” refers to the plaintiff’s attorney Michael Goldberg, who was doing the questioning in the deposition, and “A” refers to Brantley’s answers.In a February 6, 2007 affidavit, Brantley reiterated that he kept the original of the tape. However, the affidavit changes the story about possession of the original videotape and what went into the police evidence locker. The following is an extract from Brantley’s affidavit:
Q: All right. If it was generated on August 19th of 2003, and the stop was August the 6th of 2000, what, what happened to the tape in the interim?
A: It was in my possession.
A: I have every — every tape that I have ever used since the cameras were put in our patrol cars, I have in my possession.
Q: Okay. Okay. So —
A: In, in tape libraries.
Q: All right. So, you basically had the tape in your possession until it was turned in on —
A: Until it — yeah, it was turned in.
Q: — August 19th, 2003?
A: That’s correct.
Q: And then at that time you typed up what’s been termed as Plaintiff’s Exhibit Number
25, and you transferred it over to the police department evidence room?
A: Yeah, evidence and property.”
“When I was a uniformed road officer, I did keep the original videotapes of traffic stops and arrests recorded by my in-vehicle camera. I kept these tapes in the trunk of my patrol car. Generally, I kept these tapes beyond the retention period required by our policy in case issues in a case arose while a case was being prosecuted.The last sentence above is of critical importance because attorney Robert E. Lee, of the Aiken Bridges law firm, learned on October 28, 2004, that an alternative method of authenticating the Brantley tape was possible with any other original (exemplar) videotape recorded by the equipment in Brantley’s car.
“In August of 2002, I was promoted from road officer to detective and given an unmarked car to replace my patrol car. When I cleaned out my old patrol car, I took the tapes from the trunk and placed them in a drawer in a desk in my home. When this litigation began, I looked through the half dozen or so tapes that were in this drawer, and the tape containing the traffic stop at issue in this case was one of those tapes.
“I provided this original tape to my attorneys (Robert E. Lee) at the Aiken, Bridges law firm. I believe that a copy was also made and entered into evidence in Horry County, but I provided the original videotape for this civil case.
“The remaining tapes from the drawer at my house were thrown away when I moved in November 2004.”
Within days of learning of this alternate authentication process, Brantley threw away any remaining original tapes from this equipment that he still possessed, according to his affidavit.
One thing that is unequivocally clear, despite repeated subpoenas, court orders and freedom of information requests, the plaintiffs in the Southern Holdings case against Horry County never gained possession of the original tapes for analysis.
In response to subpoenas, court orders, and freedom of information requests is a constant theme in this case of conflicting and contradictory official and sworn statements by Horry County officials, as well as state and federal officials and attorneys representing them.
The original videotapes of the illegal arrest of Spencer on August 6, 2000 by Myrtle Beach police officers were allegedly taken to Steve Cain’s laboratory in Wisconsin by the defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee, on October 27, 2004, pursuant to Court Order 109, issued September 7, 2004, by Judge Bryan Harwell.
The following is a portion of Cain’s affidavit, submitted for the record, on the Lee trip and the attempt to analyze the tapes:
“On October 27, 2004 Defendants’ Counsel Robert E. Lee personally delivered to my laboratory in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin three videotapes and one Mobil Vision System-7 camera and recorder. Counsel Lee identified the camera and recorder as the equipment used by Defendant Brantley to record the events at the scene on August 6, 2000.After Lee returned to South Carolina with the tapes, their importance in the case took on new levels.
“On October 27, 2004, I provided Counsel Lee with an article I authored entitled “Forensic Video.” The article was published in The Forensic Examiner of Video Recordings – November/December - Fall 1999. The article discussed the use of the original recording equipment in the authentication process.
“On October 28, 2004, Defendants’ Counsel Lee, under the authority of Court Order 109, attended the preparation stages at my laboratory for the examination of the three videotapes. On October 28, 2004, Defendants’ Counsel Lee asked me about alternative methods to authenticate if the Brantley videotape he delivered was the original, if he (Lee) had not delivered the recorder and camera used by Brantley to record the original videotape.
“I described an alternative method which involved the use of an exemplar videotape (any other videotape ever recorded by the same equipment used by Brantley on the scene on August 6, 2000 to determine the authenticity of the Brantley videotape…
“On October 28, 2004, before the actual examination of the three videotapes began and after I described the use of exemplar videotapes to authenticate the videotape as an original recorded by a specific recorder, Defendants’ Counsel Lee unexpectedly took the videotapes he had delivered to me and left the laboratory.
“On or about October 31, 2004, I determined that the recording equipment Mr. Lee had delivered to me was in fact not the equipment used by Defendant Brantley, as identified by Counsel Lee, but was in fact the equipment used by Defendant McLendon to record events at the scene of August 6, 2000.”
Mark Keel, SLED, B&CB and Public Corruption - Plaintiffs' Electronic Exhibit I
On November 23, 2004, Danny Parris, Senior Litigation Consultant for the State Budget and Control Board, wrote to Major Mark Keel of SLED concerning the tapes.
The letter reads in part:
“While there are some technicalities at issue in the ensuing arrest of Mr. Holt (Spencer), the main thrust of the civil litigation is that Holt’s civil rights were violated in the arrest…Most disturbingly, there is a new allegation that the tape recorded from the deputy’s cruiser has been altered by editing out some or all of the alleged wrongdoing by the officers.Two non-parties to the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County lawsuit, SLED, and the State Budget and Control Board all of a sudden are thrust into the case by the Parris letter.
“As you are aware, the Budget and Control Board does not wish to be placed in a position of defending criminal actions or apparently paying off victims of abuse if such has occurred. The original tape of the stop is in the possession of our defense attorney, Robert E. Lee of the Aiken Bridges Firm in Florence. The tape was given directly to him by the sheriff’s department.
“If at all possible, we are asking for SLED to take possession of the tape to use your expertise in determining if the tape has in fact been altered.”
Parris asks SLED to take possession of the tape and conduct an analysis on it, even though the tape is covered by Court Order 109, which orders the Defendants to provide the tapes to Cain for analysis (within 30 days of the order’s September 7, 2004 filing).
The defendants were late in providing the tapes to Cain: that didn’t happen until October 27, 2004; and the next day, before analysis could be conducted, Lee took the tapes from the laboratory and returned to South Carolina.
As noted on a SLED Chain of Custody report for the tapes, Andrew Bethea of SLED received the tapes from Lee on November 30, 2004. On the same day, the tapes were turned over to Capt. David Caldwell of SLED with the notation “for shipment to the laboratory for examination.”
The tapes were sent to the FBI with a cover letter from Capt. Caldwell to Kerry Haynes, FBI Engineering Research Facility Investigative Technology Division, Quantico, VA.
Caldwell’s letter of December 15, 2004, states,
“Judge R. Bryan Harwell of the U.S. District Court has ordered that SLED deliver to the FBI the three (3) enclosed VHS videotapes for the purpose of examination to determine if they have been altered or edited.”The order Caldwell’s letter refers to is Court Order 127, issued by Judge Harwell on December 10, 2004, and the letter was worded to make it sound like an order from the judge even though Caldwell took possession of the tapes 10 days prior to the order with the notation “for shipment to the laboratory for examination.”
The FBI’s own regulations prohibit the agency from conducting forensic tests on evidence for civil cases unless the federal government is a party in the suit.
The federal government was not a party in the original Southern Holdings lawsuit.
Why Mark Keel Was Instructed to Break the Law and Get Rid of the Police Videotapes?
On December 15, 2004, SLED Capt. David Caldwell sent the videotapes to Kerry Haynes of the FBI investigative technology division. Included with the tapes was a letter from Caldwell to Haynes that stated:
“Judge R. Bryan Harwell of the U.S. District Court has ordered that SLED deliver to the FBI the three (3) enclosed VHS videotapes for the purpose of examination to determine if they have been altered or edited.”Below is an extract from the May 4, 2007 Motions Hearing by Judge Harwell, concerning the sending of the tapes to the FBI and Noel Herold’s involvement in the case (the consent order referred to is Court Order 127).
“The Court” refers to comments by Judge Harwell.Senn entered the case as a defense attorney for the Horry County Police Department and the individual officers in 2006, well after Herold examined the tapes. One of her first actions was to name Herold as an expert witness for the defense in an October 10, 2006 letter from Senn to plaintiffs’ attorney Ron Serota.
Lawyers’ comments are preceded by their names:
1. Ms. Senn, attorney for Horry County Police Department and officers;
2. Mr. Saleeby, attorney for Horry County and
3. Mr. Rakowsky, attorney for the plaintiffs.
The Court: But let me raise something. I’m doing this because I take my obligation seriously, as those of you who know me or who have known me a long time. I was glancing through the videotape deposition of Mr. Herrold (sic), and there was not an objection made, but I think it’s incumbent on me to sua sponte raise it, and I’m not implying there was any intentional mischaracterization at all, but Mr. Herrold was not, to my knowledge, a 706 court appointed expert.
I signed a consent order that the lawyers gave me, that basically dealt with shepherding these tapes around, and that was in 2004. I don’t know whether y’all intended it to be a 706 expert, but I don’t think this order designated him a 706 court-appointed expert, and (yet) the questions are framed by defense counsel in such a fashion that I ordered this man to examine these tapes for the court.
Ms. Senn: If your honor didn’t, how did it get to the FBI?
The Court: It got to the FBI, as I understand it, because it was already in the process of being turned over. The order says – and this was just a consent order signed by everybody, that says – since the tapes were first examined by plaintiff’s expert, they have been turned over to SLED by Horry County, so that entity or the FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, can investigate or analyze the tapes as well. And it says the plaintiffs deserve the opportunity to have their expert conduct a full analysis of the subject videotapes prior to trial. Accordingly, I’m ordering the following guidelines to be adhered to so that SLED and/or the FBI can investigate and/or review the tapes, and that the tapes are also timely returned and the plaintiff’s expert can complete his analysis.
You know, this was more of assisting everybody in the shepherding of the tapes. It was submitted to me by both of the parties, or all of the parties. Usually, when you have a court-appointed expert, you have compensation to that expert by the court, and issues like that, and anyway, I raise that just out of concern because I feel like I have an obligation to do so, and we may be able to remedy it easily. It may be a concern, may not be a concern to you. But, you know, anyway –Mr. Saleeby: Your honor, that’s just a matter, I assume, of miscommunication. Ms. Senn asked those questions, maybe she didn’t have the background of the case as to how the tapes got up to the FBI at that point in time.
The Court: I don’t think there’s any intentional mischaracterization by Ms. Senn at all, but when I looked at it, I said, I don’t remember naming a 706 court-appointed expert in this case.
Mr. Saleeby: I’ll be happy to tell her how it got up there.
The Court: You would agree with me, that was not the intent?
Mr. Saleeby: Absolutely, your honor.
The Court: What would seem plausible to me would be, number one, you could retake his deposition, but, I’m trying to avoid that. With the videotape deposition I can certainly instruct the jury and give a limiting instruction that y’all can come together, y’all prepared jointly an instruction to give to the jury so there’s no question to the jury about it. And that would seem to be the best way for me to handle that, because she got in it late in the game. Technically, there wasn’t an objection by counsel.
Mr. Rakowsky: There was a general objection to his testimony at the beginning of all depositions. Not on that basis, but I did object.
The Court: I understand. I’m talking about Ms. Senn’s reference that Judge Harwell ordered you to examine this tape, and do all this.
Mr. Rakowsky: At that point, I didn’t feel it was appropriate because I made my objection to him being allowed to be deposed altogether.
The Court: I understand.
Mr. Rakowsky: I don’t have any objection to doing it by way of stipulation or curative charge by the court. It doesn’t matter to me.
The Court: I would ask y’all to get together and come up with some joint stipulation that can be made part of the record and submitted to the jury, and a limiting instruction that I give them. But I am certainly casting no stones at you, Ms. Senn.
Ms. Senn: Thank you, your honor. I appreciate that. There was a representative from this other firm, and I just wasn’t corrected. I think we were both in it late. It’s been passed through several lawyers.
The Court: This case has probably passed through several judges.
Ms. Senn: I would be interested to find out, because it strikes me as odd. I’ve been representing law enforcement for 17 years. I’ve never gotten the FBI to examine one of our videotapes. I’m wondering how to get to do that without the federal judge wanting that to be done, but I guess I’ll be finding out shortly.
Mr Saleeby: You make it sound like there’s something secret about it.
In the letter, Senn states,
“Enclosed please find our designation of Noel Herold as an expert witness. You are familiar with this gentleman as his report was previously submitted to you. I am in the process of gathering this expert’s vitae and other credentials in order to comport with the federal rules.”However, during Herold’s March 9, 2007 deposition, taken by Senn for the defendants, Herold claimed he was an independent expert.
This contradiction in Herold’s status led to the above quoted discussion from the May 4, 2007 motions hearing, conducted four days prior to the seating of a jury.
Saleeby compounds the problem by his above agreement with Judge Harwell that Herold was not a court-appointed expert, ordered by the judge to examine the tapes.
Three weeks prior to this exchange, on April 13, 2007, Saleeby filed an opposition motion to “Plaintiff’s second motion to strike Noel Herold as an expert witness.”
Saleeby states in his filing:
“In late 2004, pursuant to the Order of this Court, Herold analyzed 3 videotapes sent to the FBI by SLED in order to determine whether or not the tapes had been intentionally edited or otherwise tampered with. Thus, should the Court permit Steve Cain to testify, Herold’s testimony will be crucial to rebut it.”On April 13, 2007, Saleeby says that Herold analyzed the tapes because of a court order; however, on May 4, 2007, he agrees with Judge Harwell that the judge did not order Herold to examine the tapes for the court.
And Saleeby had the nerve to say to Senn during the May 4th discussion, “You make it sound like there’s something secret about it.”
There was a lot secret going on, but none of it came out until after the case was, supposedly, settled.
FBI's Noel Herold Alleged Ties to Public Corruption
It was important for the defendants in the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County case to get the “supposed original videotapes” to the FBI of the traffic stop of Spencer on August 6, 2000.Apparently, the intent was to use the supposed prestige of the FBI to refute the findings of the plaintiffs’ expert, Steve Cain. Basically this was what attorney Saleeby stated in his response to the Plaintiffs’ Second Motion to strike Noel Herold as an expert witness.
Key pieces of evidence in the Southern Holdings case were videotapes recorded in an Horry County police car during the incident that led to the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs’ expert who analyzed copies of the videotapes, provided by the Horry County Police Department, reported in an affidavit that there were many indications the videotapes had been edited.Herold sent back a three sentence analysis never addressing any of the many anomalies in the tapes noted by the plaintiffs’ expert. Herold’s terse analysis results said the tapes were not edited.
The resulting problems that this analysis caused for the defendants spurred their attorneys to get the tapes sent to the FBI laboratory for analysis, even though (a) they intentionally misrepresented a court order and (2) the FBI is specifically prohibited by federal law from analyzing evidence in a civil case where the federal government is not a party.
Nevertheless, the tapes went to the FBI lab and were allegedly analyzed by Noel Herold, a retired FBI forensic analyst who was continuing to work in the FBI lab on a contract basis.
Wondering how there could be such a wide divergence between the two reports spurred a further look into Herold’s background:
Herold submitted differing Curriculum Vitae reports of his background and experience to different courts. The background information was significantly different to raise a red flag.
Checking further, Herold claimed on the CV’s that he earned a “Bachelor of Arts in Nuclear and Atomic Physics from Defiance (Ohio) College.” An inquiry to the Defiance College Registrar resulted in the information that the school had never offered such a major.
Reading the court transcript of Herold’s testimony in the case of U.S. v. Lynn Stewart, Herold testified to work he performed in the FBI lab on videotapes of Stewart and another defendant talking.Does this have the ring of déjà vu? An expert claims a tape was edited or otherwise altered and Herold is called upon to deny this analysis.
Explaining how he enhanced the conversation between Stewart and the other defendant, Herold said human speech was “pure noise” with no periodicity to it. In other words, speech does not travel in a sound wave from one person’s mouth to another person’s ear. Any person who has taken a basic Physics course knows this statement by Herold is totally counter to the science involved and absolutely incorrect.
An investigation by the Inspector General of the Federal Bureau of Prisons into the death of Kenneth Trentadue, while in federal custody, again involved Herold. Trentadue, according to federal authorities, committed suicide in his cell by hanging himself with a bedsheet even though the cell contained considerable blood splatter and Trentadue’s corpse showed considerable evidence of being beaten and his throat was slashed.
A videotape taken of the cell by prison guards was the subject of lab analysis. The FBI sent the tape to a different contractor who immediately reported back that the tape had been erased. Not happy with that result, the FBI turned to Herold who found no evidence of erasing on the tape. Herold’s version was the one used by the FBI to support the suicide story.
Maybe the best example of Herold’s ability to alter reality came when he testified in a deposition for the Southern Holdings case.
Explaining his FBI experience, Herold said he was called back to Washington “by Mr. Hoover in late 1972” and assigned to the FBI lab.Therefore, if one is to rely on the testimony of Noel Herold for truth and accuracy, we must accept that: (1) he earned a degree from Defiance College, a degree that the college’s own officials deny was ever offered; (2) speech does not travel in sound waves between individuals even though science says it does; and (3) J. Edgar Hoover rose from the dead to assign Herold to the FBI lab in late 1972.
Herold obviously did not remember, if he ever knew, that J. Edgar Hoover died on May 2, 1972, a date that by no stretch of the imagination could be called “late 1972.”
The FBI obviously is comfortable with such testimony by one of its supposed experts and with having it sworn to in court.
In any court case, truthful representation of the facts and evidence in the case is necessary and required by law.
There are various instances of contradictions in testimony, documents and material representations to the court in the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County lawsuit.
1. Horry County police officer Jay Brantley gave two differing explanations of what he did with original videotapes that were key pieces of evidence in the case.From the above statements by the defendants and their attorneys, it is obvious that there were significant material misrepresentations made to the court by them.
2. Horry County police chief Paul Goward said SLED confiscated the original videotapes in 2000. SLED said it did not.
3. After an analysis of copies of the videotapes by the plaintiffs’ expert Steve Cain, in 2003, the original videotapes were even more important. Cain said anomalies in the videotape copies indicated editing, but the original videotapes or any other original videotapes from the same recording equipment would be needed to completely certify these anomalies as editing.
4. On October 27, 2004, defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee took to Cain’s laboratory what he represented as the three original videotapes and the recorder used by Brantley.
5. In an affidavit submitted to the court for the Southern Holdings case, Cain stated: “On October 28, 2004, before the actual examination of the three videotapes began and after I described the use of exemplar videotapes to authenticate the videotape as an original recorded by a specific recorder, defendants’ counsel Lee unexpectedly took the videotapes he had just delivered to me and left the laboratory. I was informed by Lee that he would return with the videotapes…as soon as he took care of an unexpected situation that had developed in South Carolina that required his immediate presence.”
6. When he returned to South Carolina, Lee told Danny Parris, Senior Litigation Consultant for the S.C. Budget and Control Board, about the authentication process.
7. On November 23, 2004, Danny Parris, Senior Litigation Consultant for the State Budget and Control Board wrote to Major Mark Keel of SLED concerning the tapes.
8. The Parris letter concludes with the following statements:
a. “As you are aware, the Budget and Control Board does not wish to be placed in a position of defending criminal actions or apparently paying off victims of abuse if such has occurred. The original tape of the stop is in the possession of our defense attorney, Robert E. Lee of the Aiken Bridges Firm in Florence. The tape was given directly to him by the sheriff’s department.”9. There is a differing version of what happened when the tapes returned to South Carolina provided by plaintiffs’ attorney Michael Goldberg in a letter to Judge Bryan Harwell, dated December 3, 2004.
b. “If at all possible, we are asking for SLED to take possession of the tape to use your expertise in determining if the tape has in fact been altered.”
10. Goldberg speaks of a telephone conversation he had with defendants’ attorney Jay Saleeby: “I have now been told by Mr.Saleeby that SLED has confiscated the videotapes and plans to have the FBI conduct an analysis of the tapes.”
11. However, Glenn Elliott, attorney for the Hartness defendants, gave this description of the FBI’s involvement in the case in a response to the court: “the initial report of expert Steve Cain was the first time any of the defendants were aware that the plaintiffs believed and/or were going to allege that one or more of the videotapes from the cars involved in the stop and arrest of plaintiff Spencer had somehow been altered or erased. Attorney Lee reported this allegation to John Weaver, attorney for Horry County…as a result of this allegation of public corruption attorney Weaver and/or others associated with Horry County and the other defendants determined that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) should be advised and asked to look into this allegation…when Horry County reported these allegations to SLED it determined that it should look into this matter and it immediately requested that it be provided with the videotapes in question. Shortly thereafter, SLED determined it did not have the technical capability to analyze the videotapes and as a result it requested the FBI to analyze the videotapes.”
12. As noted on a SLED Chain of Custody report for the tapes, Andrew Bethea of SLED received the tapes from Lee on November 30, 2004. On the same day, the tapes were turned over to Capt. David Caldwell of SLED with the notation “for shipment to the laboratory for examination.”
13. The tapes were sent to the FBI with a cover letter from Capt. Caldwell to Kerry Haynes, FBI Engineering Research Facility Investigative Technology Division, Quantico, VA.
14. Caldwell’s letter of December 15, 2004, states, “Judge R. Bryan Harwell of the U.S. District Court has ordered that SLED deliver to the FBI the three (3) enclosed VHS videotapes for the purpose of examination to determine if they have been altered or edited.”
15. The order Caldwell’s letter refers to is Court Order 127, issued by Judge Harwell on December 10, 2004 and the letter was worded to make it sound like an order from the judge even though Caldwell took possession of the tapes 10 days prior to the order with the notation “for shipment to the laboratory for examination.”
16. The FBI’s own regulations prohibit the agency from conducting forensic tests on evidence for civil cases unless the federal government is a party in the suit. The federal government was not a party in the original Southern Holdings lawsuit.
17. On April 13, 2007, Saleeby, in a response to the court, stated, “In late 2004, pursuant to the Order of this Court, Herold analyzed 3 videotapes sent to the FBI by SLED in order to determine whether or not the tapes had been intentionally edited or otherwise tampered with. Thus, should the Court permit Steve Cain to testify, Herold’s testimony will be crucial to rebut it.”
18. Three weeks later, during a May 4, 2007 motions hearing, Judge Harwell addresses his supposed order to send the tapes to the FBI: “Mr. Herold (FBI) was not, to my knowledge, a 706 court appointed expert. I signed a consent order (127) that the lawyers gave me, that basically dealt with shepherding these tapes around, and that was in 2004. I don’t know whether y’all intended it to be a 706 expert, but I don’t think this order designated him a 706 court-appointed expert.”
19. Harwell knew of this misrepresentation as early as 2005. On February 16, 2005, Lee sent a letter to Harwell in which he stated, “As directed by Order of the Court, enclosed is a copy of the report issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation dated February 9, 2005 regarding the videotapes at issue in this case. This report is being sent to you in accordance with the Order issued by the Court.”
20. To put the final nail in the conspiracy and fraud in the cover up, Saleeby agrees with Judge Harwell’s statement, making this his third, contradictory, material representation on how the tapes got to the FBI.
21. In a landmark 1986 decision in Nix v. Whiteside, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously “the right to have counsel present all appropriate defenses does not extend to using perjury, and that an attorney’s duty to a client does not extend to assisting a client in committing perjury.”
22. The court, referring to an earlier decision in Strickland v. Washington , further held “In Strickland, we recognized counsel’s duty of loyalty and his ‘overarching duty to advocate the defendant’s cause.’ Plainly, that duty is limited to legitimate, lawful conduct compatible with the very nature of a trial as a search for truth. Although counsel must take all reasonable lawful means to attain the objectives of the client, counsel is precluded from taking steps or in any way assisting the client in presenting false evidence or otherwise violating the law. This principle has consistently been recognized in most unequivocal terms by expositors of the norms of professional conduct since the first Canons of Professional Ethics were adopted by the American Bar Association in 1908.”
23. In Bulloch v. United States, 1985, the court stated “Fraud upon the court is fraud which is directed to the judicial machinery itself and is not fraud between the parties or fraudulent documents, false statements or perjury. … It is where the court or a member is corrupted or influenced or influence is attempted or where the judge has not performed his judicial function — thus where the impartial functions of the court have been directly corrupted.”
24. Fraud on the court occurs when the judicial machinery itself has been tainted, such as when an attorney, who is an officer of the court, is involved in the perpetration of a fraud or makes material misrepresentations to the court. Fraud upon the court makes void the orders and judgments of that court.
25. Plainly, from the above quoted decisions, an attorney may not legally, knowingly lie (commit perjury) or allow his client to lie in court documents and proceedings.
26. Additionally, judges may not knowingly allow attorneys or the attorney’s clients to commit perjury or make material misrepresentations to the court.
One of the more outrageous stories told in the Southern Holdings v. Horry County lawsuit was of the police car of which Horry County had no records. This was a necessary story to cover up the fact that HCPD and its lawyers intentionally covered up the elimination of a key piece of evidence in the case.
It is also a story that again demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that the county, its officials, and its lawyers conspired together to keep the truth about their actions out of court records.
THE KIDNAPPING OF DORIS HOLT TO HALT THE LAWSUIT AGAINST GOVERNMENT AGENCIES IN SOUTH CAROLINA
The saga that is the Doris Holt story is nothing short of a human rights violation and tragedy. However, this story does not take place in Egypt, China or Iran but in Orangeburg, South Carolina.
In May 2009, Doris, her son James B. Spencer, and other Plaintiffs of a federal lawsuit, Lail et al. v. US Government et al., began filing tort claims in federal court against a host of federal, state and local government agencies for alleged “fraud on the court” and other charges associated with a conspiracy to never let the Southern Holdings case get to trial.
At the time, Doris was receiving home nursing care from Flemming Home Care, through Palmetto Senior Care (PSC). When a piece of Doris' jewelry was stolen from the home in June 2009, Jim informed the care provider. The suspect, commissioned to care for Doris, was fired.
One month later, in July 2009, a South Carolina DSS caseworker, Susan Stroman, unexpectedly appeared at Jim Spencer's home, informing him that they had received an anonymous phone call alleging physical abuse of Doris Holt at his hands.
Indications are that the anonymous tip was fabricated in retribution for the report of theft.
Doris denied any abuse, and after Stroman's initial investigation, Jim was cleared of any wrong-doing. However, two weeks later, Stroman requested further investigation from the Richland Country Sheriff's Department.
This is where the real illegalities start to surface.
Palmetto Senior Care claimed to have discovered and obtained photographs of a bruised Doris Holt and submitted them to Stroman. These photographs were refuted as fabrications, as the daycare attendant testified to discovering pancake makeup on Doris Holt's face. Sheriff Deputies Ferguson and Scott reported no probable cause and considered the matter closed.
Information for the incident report was reported by Jennifer Brewton, allegedly the social worker for Doris Holt. The report alleged that Holt had come to day care at various times with bruises; and it concluded with the statement: “The complainant (Brewton) states she just wants this documented and possibly investigated to be sure the above victim (Holt) is not being assaulted by her son.”
Note: The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) is one of the agencies named in the tort claims and is a sister agency of DSS in the South Carolina Public Safety Department. Both agencies are dependent on the State Budget and Control Board, another named agency in the tort claims, for funding.There is significant evidence to suggest that what happened to Doris Holt from this time forward was retribution for Spencer, Holt and others' filing of tort claims in federal court against a host of federal, state and local government agencies for incidents that occurred on June 7, 2000 and August 6, 2000.
In July of 2009, an elderly Doris Holt was taken into custody and made a ward of the State of South Carolina.
Subsequently, without notification or conceivable justification, the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) terminated Ms. Holt’s uncapped and comprehensive private medical insurance coverage. This unfortunate action by DSS resulted in a swift decline in the quality of care and eventually led to her current critical health condition.
In short, this is a story of incredulous elder abuse at the hands of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services.
On July 27, 2009, Stroman, without any evidence or medical reports, filed a complaint and affidavit and attempted to obtain a Court Order to take Doris Holt into protective custody.
The Court Order was denied.
On July 29, 2009, Stroman changed her affidavit, adding considerably sensationalized allegations into it without any further investigation into the case or any new physical evidence or medical reports.
Stroman submitted her complaint to a different Judge, according to the Clerk of Court records, and obtained a protective order to take Doris Holt into custody.
Note: South Carolina state law definitively makes such actions on Stroman’s part illegal. Rule 43 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure states: “Subsequent Applications for Order After Refusal. If any motion be made to any judge and be denied, in whole or in part, or be granted conditionally, no subsequent motion upon the same state of facts shall be made to any other judge in that action.”On August 3, 2009, that Family Court convened the case to consider DSS custody of Doris. Jim Spencer came to court armed with an affidavit by Juanita Flemming, owner and operator of Flemming’s Home Care. It was submitted to the court. The date of the affidavit is August 3, 2009. It was obtained by Spencer prior to the emergency court hearing over Holt’s custody.
Flemming’s affidavit included the statement:
“My company has been caring for Doris Holt twice-daily weekdays and twice-daily weekends for two and one-half hours per day since Mrs. Holt started attending the White Rock day care center in December 2008. There have never been any signs of abuse of Doris Holt during our involvement beginning in December 2008 to date.”Spencer was not charged with abuse and therefore not named in the case: this legal tactic disallowed his testimony or participation in the hearing, rendering him unable to testify on his own, or Doris', behalf, as her power-of-attorney.
Princess Hodges, the head DSS attorney, produced no medical professionals, outside witnesses, or any other evidence, including photographs of the supposed injuries (none existed). According to South Carolina law, they must be presented by law-enforcement professionals as part of the investigation.
The entire case for custody of Doris Holt was based on Stroman's testimony, an account that had changed radically since the first home-visit.
The Family Court judge stripped Jim of his power-of-attorney for his mother, and appointed Sean Markham and Susan Stewart Guardian ad Litem and attorney, respectively.
September 2009 marked the beginnings of what could be considered a death sentence for Doris.
Jim could only watch as his mother eventually was sent to the Unihealth Elderly Facility in Columbia, SC, within protective custody of DSS, who had made an agreement with her guardian and attorney to have her permanently taken into custody.
As Jim continued to fight for the seemingly simple right to care of his ailing mother, the circumstances got worse -- and stranger.
Doris then made efforts to assert herself by signing notarized papers to get her medical records and seek a second opinion on her condition. DSS claimed that a physician had found her medically incompetent because of dementia and, therefore, DSS ruled Doris Holt was not capable of signing a legal document. However, DSS had Doris sign legal documents releasing her personal bank information. Furthermore, the right to find anyone incompetent is limited to the probate courts.
DSS blatantly lied and attempted to deceive a tired and grief stricken Jim.
After desperately fighting and struggling, with limited resources, to contend with DSS, the Family Court finally gave Jim standing to testify.
DSS immediately admitted that the allegations of physical abuse against Spencer were baseless and unfounded.
Jim was able to block the order to have his mom admitted permanently at that time, but DSS unjustly successfully stripped him of his medical and durable power of attorney rights for his mother, and villainized him to take control of her.
DSS, upon losing the battle for permanent placement, informed the court that Doris' condition has worsened to a degree that required them to keep her under their care.
DSS kept Doris in Adult Protective Services at the Unihealth facility (Medicare's lowest rated facility in the country) only to “chemically constrain” her using Risperdal and other sedatives.
Jim met with the court appointed Guardian ad Litem, Columbia attorney Sean Markham, after the September 2009 hearing. The two shared information on Doris. During this meeting, included in the DSS files on Doris Holt, Jim noticed copies of three articles on the Southern Holdings vs. Horry County lawsuit.
Jim requested copies of the articles from Markham and followed up with an e-mail request to Markham on October 1, 2009.
“I never received the copies of the newspaper articles on the case in the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals that you found in the DSS file,” said Jim in the e-mail. “Would you please e-mail me the copies per our agreement?”Markham in a reply e-mail.
“Forgot about the files. I have no problem providing you those documents and have attached them to this email.”The e-mail contained attachments of articles on the Southern Holdings case dated July 18, 2009, February 2, 2009 and February 12, 2009. All three articles have the FAX number of the Richland County DSS office (803-714-7301) on the top, along with the notation “RCDSS” after the number, verifying they were sent to Markham by DSS.
Note: All three articles report on various aspects of the Southern Holdings case mentioned above. This is evidence that DSS was aware of the case and the resulting tort claims. There is absolutely no other reason that those articles would be included in a DSS case file on alleged abuse of Doris Holt.In early October 2009, at the Unihealth facility in Columbia, Jim Spencer and Debbie Clark of Christian Counseling discovered extensive open wounds from acute injuries on Doris' arms. Debbie, horrified by the atrocities, immediately contacted the OMBUDSMAN and filed a complaint.
Carolyn Church, former member of the Lexington County DSS Board of Directors, accompanied Jim to the Unihealth facility in late October to visit Doris. They found her, health deteriorating, in a room with five patients (one of which was a male), all sharing one overflowing portable toilet. Carolyn's pants were soaked with urine after leaning up against Doris' bed.
Jim and his friend Alan Geoghegan visited Doris on December 13, 2009. Jim found his mother with a black eye, swollen shut. All indications pointed to Doris having been neglected and/or abused.
Jim was informed by his counselors that her condition required a criminal investigation.
Jim called the Columbia Police Department (CPD) and arranged to meet them at the facility with photographs of his mother’s condition. Rodney Lail, a former Myrtle Beach police officer and another plaintiff in the Southern Holdings case, accompanied Jim to meet the officers.
Officers Chattara and Alvero of the CPD arrived on the scene and examined the photographs that Jim Spencer presented to them. The officers entered the facility with Jim. An employee, head nurse Justine Udogwu, told them that Jim Spencer was currently under investigation for abusing Doris Holt. This was a blatantly untrue statement, as audio recordings of the September and October 2009 court hearings clearly have statements by DSS representatives to the judge that there is no evidence whatsoever that Jim had ever abused his mother.
The employee also claimed that Doris was not allowed to be seen by the police without permission of her case worker, Susan Stroman.
The officers filled out a report and left without even looking at Doris.
Both officers later testified in sworn depositions, taken on March 17, 2010, that the pictures would be probable cause for an investigation and they would have investigated the incident further had the false information about Jim Spencer not been mentioned by Udogwu. Additionally, during the depositions, both officers were asked if either Jim Spencer or Rodney Lail caused any kind of disturbance or made any demands of the officers while at the UniHealth facility. Both officers answered “No” and added that everyone was cordial, cooperative and helpful. The officers also testified they both got the impression that Udogwu was uncomfortable with Jim Spencer and Rodney Lail being inside the nursing home, even though they were invited in by the officers and conducted themselves above reproach.
Jim, distraught and dissatisfied, complained to CPD investigators. Finally on December 29, 2009, Lt. Colonel Burke and Sgt. Drafts of the CPD presented pictures to Jim taken by Investigator Merrill on December 28th of a healthy looking and clean Doris Holt.
Immediately, Jim Spencer and Rodney Lail visited Doris Holt. They were met by 15 Unihealth staff members who informed Jim that he was forbidden on the property because he has been disruptive by bringing police officers to their facility, even though supervisors had offered to meet with Jim at any time to discuss their working relationship and the medical/physical condition of Doris Holt.
Jim met with Brenda Hughes, Director of UniHealth, and she told him that she would arrange a meeting with the PSC physicians and himself to discuss his mother's condition and their decisions concerning her. When Jim requested to bring his own medical counsel, Doris Holt's personal medical practitioner, in order to help explain the medical jargon to him, Brenda responded, “That is a deal killer... that is not going to happen!”
Columbia, SC Police Department Cover-up of Abuse of 92-Year-Old Doris Holt Who Died in Captivity
Doris E. Holt’s son, James B. Spencer (formerly Robert Brian Holt), was her personally-appointed durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney since 1980, until she was kidnapped and made a ward of the State by the South Carolina Department of Social Services beginning in 2009. He fought to save his mother’s life by moving her to a local doctor and facility, but was prevented from doing so by the SC DSS. Jim Spencer, undaunted, built a case for the abuse of his mother by SC DSS personnel and Unihealth personnel. In that regard, he engaged a medical expert whose report raises grave concerns about the State of South Carolina’s Department of Social Services, and their priorities, and our system of health care in general, both of which need to be addressed.
“I have reviewed the pictures of Doris Holt marked as Exhibit “Four” and Exhibit “Five” attached hereto. In my opinion and with a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the left eye region is swollen and eddhymotic, evidence of blunt force trauma that is consistent with being forcefully struck with an object such as a hand or other blunt instrument.” ~ Edson Oliver Parker III, MD
Doris' last words to Jim as she squeezed his hands in hers were as follow: “Promise me that no matter what happens that you'll get these people that did this to us and bring them to justice, but do not hurt them in any other way, son; it's not worth your life.”
Jim was later informed that Doris was being, “moved to an undisclosed location and you, nor anyone else will be allowed to see her, or communicate with her in any way.”
On May 31, 2010, Jim received a phone call informing him that his mother has been missing from the aforementioned undisclosed location for three weeks and that human remains have been found and were being examined for identification.
On July 13, 2010, an audience with Governor Mark Sanford and his counsel provided much needed hope in the face of these myriad dilemmas. On July 30, 2010, Brandon Gaskins, Deputy Chief counsel, office of the Governor, stated: “DSS has provided him incomplete information concerning their actions in relation to the case and he is currently awaiting a complete case file in order to render judgment.” He also stated that he “received confirmation that she is indeed alive,” but did not offer an indication as to where she was being held.
Since DSS is a cabinet office and answers directly to the Governor, a request was made for Doris' personal doctor, her son, and the United Church of Christ Minister for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, Sala Nolan, to be provided access to Doris.
DORIS HART DIED ON FEBRUARY 19, 2011 WHILE IN CUSTODY OF THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
On February 19, 2011, Doris Holt died. Her attending physician stated that she had died of starvation. If that were not enough, within a couple of days of her death, the coroner, Ms. Samuetta Shuler-Marshall, informed the her son that Doris did not deserve an autopsy because she was too old.
We thought politicians were just about the worst sort of fecal matter on the planet but apparently we are going to have to add the South Carolina Department of Social Services and Unihealth Orangeburg to that list. Not to mention our good friend Attorney General, Alan Wilson, who, along with the Orangeburg County Coroner, Samuetta Shuler-Marshall, refused to simply require an autopsy on the suspicious and potentially wrongful death of Doris Holt while in the care of SC DSS and Unihealth Orangeburg.
Update 3/3/2011: We have heard from the AG’s office and for now, are satisfied that they are working on behalf of all seniors in this matter. An autopsy now seems within reach, but not because the state is demanding it: it is only because a private donor has stepped forward. The further one looks at this whole sorted mess of a story, the more questions come about and few answers.This Doris Holt story ended tragically for her: she died of malnutrition and dehydration, according to Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, who was compassionate enough and cared enough about the health and rights of all citizens to investigate. Sadly and sickly, the Orangeburg coroner refused to do an autopsy and refused to return calls to Jim and even to a doctor, something that makes you wonder how indecently, even illegally Orangeburg residents may be treated.
Doris E Holt's Obituary:
Columbia: A memorial service for Doris E. Holt, 94, of Columbia will be held at 1 o’clock, Monday, March 28, 2011 at Shives Funeral Home, Colonial Chapel, 5202 Colonial Drive, Columbia, SC.Doris Holt was lost in the swirling vortex of an uncontrolled bureaucratic system. South Carolina Hotline has learned from inside sources that the official autopsy report will show that Doris died of starvation and dehydration in the year of 2011 in the United States of America. How sad is that, in a country with the best health care in the world? Doris Holt was under the direct health care management of the Columbia office of the South Carolina Department of Social Services and Unihealth Orangeburg at the time of her death. Her son could only look on as her body weight kept dropping until the end, as he was prevented by SC DSS and Unihealth from providing qualified medical help from independent geriatric medical doctors.
Born January 15, 1917 in Long Island, NY, she was a daughter of Margaret Greehey. She was a devout Catholic and an avid civil rights activist. Mrs. Holt was an inspiration to many when, at the age of 81, she graduated from Pfeifer College with a Bachelor of Arts in Religion.
Survivors include her son, James Spencer Holt of Columbia; son, Henry (Adie) Holt of Chicago; daughter, Gladys (Jay) Stedman of Connecticut; daughter, Kathy Strickland of Cleveland; 7 grandchildren; 2 great grandchildren and “Rico” the cat. She was preceded in death by her husband, William E. Holt.
Born: January 15, 1917
Place of Birth: Long Island, NY
Death: February 19, 2011
Place of Death: Orangeburg, SC
At the time of her death, Doris Holt was held in captivity by the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
SUMMARY OF EVENTS
James B. Spencer was not at home when Horry County law enforcement officers executed a bogus and illegal arrest warrant for him at his home on June 7, 2000, but his mother, Doris Holt, was. The Officers "left with several boxes of corporate secrets involving the assets and property of Southern Holdings Inc. (a NV corporation), a tobacco company, as well as its subsidiaries. This included information regarding all property in storage as to the retail stores (all property went missing immediately thereafter) and information containing the whereabouts of the $8,000,000 in bearer bonds owned by Southern Holdings, which were acquired during the merger and acquisition of Ivestra, S.A, a Venezuelan corporation (holder of exclusive import license issued by the government for RJR Nabisco tobacco products, which are in high demand in that country). Southern Holdings folded later that month in the year 2000."
Horry County was desperate to get Doris Holt out of the case at all costs.
Two months later, on August 6, 2000, Spencer was illegally arrested by Mrytle Beach police officers. Within days of the arrest, Horry County was put on notice by Spencer’s lawyers that the original videotapes were to be preserved and available for examination.
The original videotapes of the August 6, 2000 arrest of James Spencer were key pieces of evidence in the Southern Holdings v. Horry County lawsuit. The original videotape recorded on the scene from the police car of HCPD officer Jay Brantley was especially critical because of the angle of orientation and events recorded by it.
Horry County first attempted to say the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) had confiscated the original videotapes. SLED denied such action. Obviously, one of the law enforcement agencies was lying.
Horry County provided copies of the videotapes incident for examination by the plaintiff’s expert Steve Cain. Cain provided a three page report in which he cited numerous anomalies in the videotape copies, all of which led to the conclusion that the tapes had been tampered with before being turned over to the Plaintiffs. This was especially true of the Brantley videotape of which Cain said the tape appeared to have been edited and significantly altered.
A portion of the Cain report reads as follows:
“It is further noted that at the transition between the last two scenes at 39:55 that the index numbers on the top left portion of the time code change from 2217 to 2218 and then back again to 2217 during the transition. This could not have happened unless potential editing occurred at this particular time.All of the above anomalies (there are many more listed in the report) collectively cast serious doubt concerning the authenticity of portions of the original videotape from which Exhibit Q-2 was reportedly manufactured by the Horry County Police Department.”
Cain went on to say the original videotapes and the original VCR or other recording equipment used to make the original tapes be obtained for authenticity purposes.
On September 22, 2003, Judge Houck issued Minute Order 68-1 based on an agreement between the Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ attorneys. The agreement was for the Defendants to make available to the Plaintiffs’ forensic expert (Cain) by December 1, 2003, (1) the original unedited videotapes, (2) both the Brantley and McLendon videotape recorders used at the August 6, 2000 scent, and (3) the specification manuals and other manufacturer documents for the recorders.
December 1, 2003 came and went without the Defendants’ and/or their attorneys living up to the agreement in Minute Order 68-1.
Additionally, Horry County took Brantley’s police car out of service on October 11, 2003.
Nearly a year passed by before Defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee showed up at Cain’s laboratory with three videotapes (claimed by Lee to be the originals) and a recorder Lee said was the one from Brantley’s car.
After Lee learned of alternative methods of verifying the authenticity of the videotapes as originals and of determining if the videotape recorder was, in fact, that used for the Brantley videotape, but before the examination by Cain began, Lee claimed an emergency in Horry County that required his immediate presence, grabbed the videotapes and left Cain’s lab.
Cain later determined the video recorder brought by Lee was the one from the McLendon car, not from the Brantley car.
When the Plaintiffs’ again attempted to get access to the Brantley police car, camera and videotape recorder from it, they were told there were no records on either.
In a December 2004 memo from HCPD Chief John Morgan to his lawyers, he stated that he had attempted to find the police car but Horry County’s Fleet Maintenance Department had no record of it.
In a January 2005 affidavit from Morgan to the court he stated, “When Officer Brantley’s vehicle was removed from service and listed as surplus the equipment (including the video recorder) was removed and placed in a common area with other like equipment. The Police Department and County do not inventory that equipment or keep track of it.”
Morgan effectively claimed any records of the police car, camera and videotape recorder were non-existent. Morgan would have us believe that the police department had no record of tens of thousands of county equipment, bought with public dollars. Even living in Horry County, that one is a little hard to swallow.
This was the sole information in court records. The court was never informed the date that the police car was taken out of service and the video recorder removed.
On May 11, 2007, a Freedom of Information request was sent to Horry County for information on the car and video recorder. The response from the county said the car was removed from service on October 11, 2003 and the video recorder records were inventoried and maintained by the police department. This was the first time that the October 11th date was known.
Either the Horry County Police Department or the Fleet Maintenance office was lying. However, a follow-up telephone call to Greg Bratcher of the Fleet Maintenance office confirmed the response in the FOIA request. Bratcher read the information from a county computer during the phone call.
In a 2008 court order, Judge Bryan Harwell, who had replaced Judge Houck on the case early in 2004, stated he saw no real disparity between the Morgan affidavit and memo and the information provided by Bratcher.
What the judge never addressed, but is key to this case, is the total disregard for court orders that Horry County, its police department and its lawyers held. After Judge Houck’s September 22, 2003 minute order but before the December 1, 2003 deadline for providing the videotapes and video recorders to the Plaintiffs, Horry County took Brantley’s police car out of service. The video recorder was removed, but instead of being provided to the Plaintiffs, the video recorder was apparently ‘intentionally lost’ by HCPD.
Later, when questioned about the missing police car and video recorder, the police department claimed no records existed when they obviously did.
How could the county’s attorneys and county officials so blatantly lie and get away with it?
The only answer is the court allowed it to happen, allowed them to get away with it, and never once disciplined either the defendants or their attorneys.
The whole legal system depends on the judge being the person who brings fairness to the case and the courtroom. When he abrogates that duty, the legal system is completely out of order.
Fraud on the court and conspiracy to obstruct justice are now being claimed by the Plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed in Washington, D.C. Federal District Court.
Doris Holt, a plaintiff in the lawsuit, was not in court on May 9, 2007, nor represented by an attorney when a supposed settlement to the Southern Holdings case was allegedly ruled.
In subsequent answers to appeals and in court rulings, the defendants’ lawyers and the judge have consistently stated that the settlement was announced in open court where all plaintiffs were present and represented. This has never been true because Doris Holt was never there. This made Doris Holt a problem to the settlement.
After uncovering facts that pointed to fraud on the court and conspiracy to subvert due process, the plaintiffs and stockholders began filing tort claims in Spring 2009 against federal, state and local government agencies and officials. Tort claims were filed against federal agencies in April 2009, Horry County agencies in early May 2009, and state of South Carolina agencies in June 2009.
SLED was a consistent player in keeping key evidence (Horry County police videotapes) out of the hands of the plaintiffs and their expert analyst. The State Budget and Control Board also participated in these actions.
On May 10, 2009, Horry County began receiving its tort claims. The S.C. Budget and Control Board and SLED were listed as state agencies that were included in tort claims against them. According to the organizational chart of S.C. Government, DSS is under SLED in the organization of the S.C. Department of Public Safety.
On May 15, 2009, South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) employee Susan Stroman, with the adult protective services, unexpectedly showed up at Doris Holt and her son’s apartment, supposedly based on an anonymous report that Doris Holt’s son was abusing his then 92-year-old mother.
On May 24, 2009, the Richland County Sheriff’s Office was called to Doris Holt’s day care facility by a social worker named Jennifer Brewton. Brewton reported James Spencer/Brian Holt for adult abuse regarding purported new injuries to his mother.
Note: Doris Holt arrived at the care enter at 8:00 AM, however, the Sheriff’s Office was not called until 3:25 PM. Significantly, no medical reports were ever produced regarding that day to this date despite being subpoenaed.On July 24, 2009, two Sheriff Deputies arrived at the day care facility at 3:40 P.M. and took a report. After talking to Doris Holt and viewing the purported injuries, the Sheriff Deputies found no probable cause to even make a follow up telephone call to her son, the alleged abuser according to the Sheriff’s Deputies incident report.
Information for the incident report was reported by Jennifer Brewton, allegedly the social worker for Doris Holt. The report alleges that Holt comes to day care at various times with bruises and it concludes with the statement, “The complainant (Brewton) states she just wants this documented and possibly investigated to be sure the above victim (Holt) is not being assaulted by her son.”
In other words, these allegations are unsubstantiated and just setting the scene for an emergency court order by DSS. To counter them, an affidavit by Juanita Flemming, owner and operator of Flemming’s Home Care was submitted to the court. The date of the affidavit is August 3, 2009.
“My company has been caring for Doris Holt twice-daily weekdays and twice-daily weekends for two and one-half hours per day since Mrs. Holt started attending the White Rock day care center in December 2008,” said Flemming in her affidavit. “There have never been any signs of abuse of Doris Holt during our involvement beginning in December 2008 to date.”While Brewton’s allegations were vague. Flemming’s statement was very definite. Flemming also noted in her affidavit that it is her responsibility to report possible abuse to law enforcement authorities if any is suspected.
On July 27, 2009, DSS case worker Susan Stroman, without any evidence or medical reports, filed a complaint and affidavit and attempted to obtain a Court Order to take Doris Holt into protective custody. The Court Order was denied.
On July 29, 2009, Stroman changed her affidavit, adding considerably sensationalized allegations into it without any further investigation into the case or any new physical evidence or medical reports. Stroman submitted her complaint to a different Judge, according to the Clerk of Court records, and obtained a protective order to take Doris Holt into custody.
South Carolina state law definitively makes such actions on Stroman’s part illegal.
Rule 43 of the South Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure states: “Subsequent Applications for Order After Refusal. If any motion be made to any judge and be denied, in whole or in part, or be granted conditionally, no subsequent motion upon the same state of facts shall be made to any other judge in that action.”
Additionally, the following two rulings by the S.C. Supreme Court seem to apply to Stroman’s and the second judge’s actions.
“There is no appeal from one Circuit judge to another. All are of equal dignity and have the same right to pronounce the judgments of the court. One Circuit judge upon the same state of facts, has no power to change, alter or reverse a decision of a brother judge of the same Circuit. Otherwise, there would be no end to litigation.” Graham v. Loris, 272 S.C. 442, 455 (S.C. 1978).Based on these three case citings, Stroman’s actions in taking the same complaint to a different judge and that judge essentially reversing the denial of the first judge are actions counter to state law and state supreme court precedents.
“If any motion be made to any judge and be denied, in whole or in part, or be granted conditionally, no subsequent motion upon the same set of facts shall be made to any other judge in that action.” Smith v. Breedlove, 377 S.C. 415, 421 (S.C. 2008)
On August 3, 2009, a hearing was held where Spencer was not allowed to speak or present evidence as he was not charged with anything and therefore he had no standing. Additionally, Doris Holt was not present preventing her from speaking on her own behalf. Despite being subpoenaed, neither doctor nor nurse that supposedly treated Doris Holt’s injuries on July 24, 2009, appeared in court.
It took Spencer until August 30, 2009, to legally gain access to the sealed court files, including the DSS affidavits. Just prior to the files being unsealed and the files being given to Spencer, DSS lawyers showed up at the Clerk of Courts office.
Prior to Spencer being given copies of the files he was taken upstairs to meet with other DSS lawyers. He was at that time notified DSS had changed its position regarding him having abused his mother. He was informed there was no evidence of abuse and he done a fantastic job of taking care of her.
However, Spencer was informed Doris Holt’s medical condition had worsened since she was taken into custody on July 29, 2009, and, without further explanation, he was informed his mother would be kept at the home.
Many things make the above actions by a state agency employee, the state agency lawyers and the second judge very questionable. Without physical or medical evidence and only on the unsubstantiated allegations of a DSS case worker, the second judge granted a protective order.
The doctor and nurse, who allegedly examined Holt’s initial alleged injuries, provided no medical report and failed to appear in court even though they were subpoenaed to do so.
Even though DSS changed its story about possible abuse, it is still insisting on keeping Holt in, essentially, custody for the foreseeable future. DSS has also repeatedly denied Spencer access to his mother’s medical records and did not honor a request, signed by Doris Holt, for the release of those records.
On September 30, 2009, Stroman sent Spencer an e-mail denying release of Doris Holt’s medical records. Spencer responded, “I am not an adverse party to my mother’s interests in any way and have taken care of her for thirty two years. I have a desire to review the medical records and my mother wants me to review the records and the only people that do want her family to review the records, for some unknown reason, is you.”
DSS initially took custody of Doris Holt on suspicion of abuse. DSS lawyers later told Spencer that they had found Spencer “had not abused your mother in any manner.”
Rather than releasing Holt because allegations of abuse were totally unsubstantiated and no evidence of such abuse was discovered, DSS came up with a new reason, “dementia”, to maintain custody of Holt. Again, there is no substantiating evidence to support the claim of dementia to date.
These are exactly the same types of actions used in the Southern Holdings case – denying access to records, false allegations; false statements in court; use of state agencies to protect each other; decisions and rulings by judges in contradiction of established law and established legal precedents.
State agencies apparently manipulated the system to get custody of Holt, the one plaintiff who was a “loose end” in the Southern Holdings case, as well as one of the plaintiffs who filed tort claims against county, state and federal agencies and officials.
This conclusion is substantiated by the fact that included in Holt’s DSS file were three newspaper articles, by this reporter, on the Southern Holdings case. Those articles went into deep detail of the connections between the FBI, state agencies and local agencies that further demonstrate “fraud on the court under color of law.”
That the circumstances surrounding Holt’s removal from her home by DSS are, at best, very questionable goes without saying. One could even say Holt was “kidnapped” by DSS because, to date, the only testimony in court to support these allegations was by DSS employees with no outside testimony by doctors to support the allegations. The original allegations (of abuse) have since been rescinded by DSS, but a way was manipulated to keep her in DSS custody.
These two cases at first look could be seen to be unconnected. However, when looking closer at what has transpired and the manner in which, again, state employees are intimately involved in apparently false testimony in both cases, one can conclude that there is a direct tie between the Southern Holdings case and the snatching of Doris Holt by DSS.
TESTIMONY OF FORMER MYRTLE BEACH POLICE OFFICE RODNEY LAIL (17-YEAR VETERAN WHO WAS FIRED FOR BEING A WHISTLEBLOWER)
Rodney Lail is a seventeen-year police veteran. He lives in South Carolina.
By Rodney Lail
February 18, 2011
It is a long-standing legal doctrine in this country and around the civilized world that an individual that uses their position to commit crimes against humanity cannot hide behind the “color of law” to commit such crimes. Morality and humanity needs to prevail over the fabrication of evidence. I am a decorated police veteran. I saw Doris Holt at Unihealth Columbia AKA the “Vegetable Garden.” I was there when SC DSS admitted they were wrong on the court record about Doris Holt being physically abused, which is why she was supposedly taken into so-called protective custody.
I was also there when SC DSS claimed Doris Holt, while under their care, had medically deteriorated to the point where James Spencer was now required by SC DSS to present a new medical care plan due to her new condition. Finally, I witnessed the countless attempts by James Spencer to obtain Doris Holt’s medical records, all of which were blocked by SC DSS, preventing James Spencer from proposing a plan of care. No Medical Doctor could propose a care plan with Spencer without medical records. So SC DSS kept her in custody, and the result of their protective custody is seen in pictures with Doris Holt beaten with black eyes and now on a feeding tube at the hospital.
SC DSS’s Susan Stroman and Palmetto Senior Care’s Jennifer Brewton need to face their day in court for true elder abuse, along with the others that pulled their strings.
It needs to be pointed out that James Spencer was denied access to the medical records although he has been for thirty years Doris Holt’s personally appointed durable power of attorney and power of health care attorney, yet SC DSS to this day still wrongfully withheld his mother’s medical records from James Spencer.
Also, I think it needs to be pointed out that SC DSS canceled Doris Holt’s comprehensive medical care plan with Palmetto Senior Care without rationale justification, making her a ward of the state. Bring on an independent investigation and Grand Jury so South Carolina can clean up its mess and improve the system, or just ignore it and picture your family’s loved ones, or even you, ending up like Doris Holt.
Here are the facts on the litigation and why Keel and the other cronies need to be brought to justice. The Police Defendants offered a settlement in Court on May 9, 2007, that was never accepted by the Plaintiffs, which included myself. Judge Harwell finally admitted on August 13, 2008 that the basis of the settlement was fraudulent. The Plaintiffs never agreed to a settlement, never executed any documents, never received any settlement funds nor acknowledged such a settlement in open Court.
The unwitting Plaintiffs were informed by their counsel not to express their disagreement in open Court unless polled by the Judge as no settlement would be final until it was executed in writing. There never was a written settlement agreement and a meeting of the minds for a settlement between the Plaintiffs and Defendants at any time, and there in fact was no settlement. The Plaintiffs counsels explanation to the Plaintiffs for their statements in court was they wanted to buy extra time to explore how to litigate the Judges one-sided evidentiary rulings and that no settlement can be finalized until it is in writing and all the terms are agreed upon and signed off on by all the parties. The Plaintiffs filed an appeal based on fraud upon the court, which Judge Harwell denied because he claimed it took to long for the plaintiffs to discover the fraud and said the filing was untimely.
The 4th Circuit refused to hear the facts of the case as Plaintiff Doris Holt was kidnapped by SC DSS, and the Plaintiffs were warned that if they wanted to see Doris Holt alive again they were to stop legal action in the case before the Court of appeals. The Plaintiffs missed a filing deadline by one day when they tried to find the kidnapped frail Doris Holt. No facts of the case were ever reviewed by Federal District Court (Judge Harwell) or the 4th Circuit as Doris Holt was used as a bargaining chip. As to the case in Washington, DC, the DC Court ruled the case had to be refiled in South Carolina Federal District Court for Jurisdictional reason; no evidence was reviewed in any instance.
Doris Holt’s life was the bargaining chip used to keep the Plaintiffs at bay while they missed the filing deadline. Doris Holt paid for it with her life. Bring on 60 Minutes…I am a former police officer who was also a Plaintiff, and I lost my career for reporting the truth which Keel, a lackey, and the cronies, kept covered up…now these are the facts!!!
The crime of obstruction of justice is obvious. What is also obvious — and I have personal knowledge of — is that after SLED's Keel obtained the suspect police videotapes, he wrote a letter to the FBI with a false claim that the Federal Judge presiding in the case ordered FBI involvement. It seems to me that Keel and Caldwell would have to known about an ongoing Federal Case to fabricate the existence of a Federal Court Order.
I was a decorated police officer for seventeen years when I lost my job for reporting the crimes that I witnessed the other law enforcement personnel committing in this matter, which Keel and his cronies protected. The concern should be about the crimes, and there should be a call for an independent prosecutor and a grand jury to fully investigate these matters!!!
ARE HORRY COUNTY POLICE CORRUPTION AND SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC CORRUPTION UNIQUE? ...HELL NO!
October 7, 2011
This is Part One of a serires on Police/Public corruption. This is a primer on Police/Public corruption and understanding the culture of public corruption, the danger to each of us, and how we the people can expose it’s existence in South Carolina!!
The formula for Police/Public Corruption is always the same from the top down, and the same is true in South Carolina. We need to look at the solicitors, the bar and the judges because our corruption is from the top down.
Through the eyes of “American Justice” the video below contains frightenting testimony and results of investigations into the culture of Police/Public Corruption.
The key in all cases is to follow the money, and in South Carolina the money [your tax money] flows from the South Carolina Budget and Control Board.
Administrative Police Corruption in South Carolina, a person of interest, Mark Keel!!
The truth is coming, unless we the people fail ourselves!!
By Dr.David Klapmeier (commenting on the article at SCHotline.us)
October 7, 2011
Does history repeat itself? Some historians believe it is a good idea to remember history because it does repeat itself. After review of the solid documentation concerning Guilty Cop Keel, it is very apparent that history is repeating itself in Horry county, South Carolina.
The Blue Wall of Silence is up and working in Horry county.
The Administrative Blue Wall of silence is up and working in Horry county, South Carolina.
The C.Y.A. (cover your ass) is working in Horry county, South Carolina.
The concept of cops don’t tell on cops is working in Horry county, South Carolina.
The idea that the guilty cops are avoiding an investigation and then maybe it will go away is alive and well in Horry county, South Carolina.
At the national level a good question is presently being asked. How can the Justice Dept. investigate itself when it comes to the gun smuggling, Mexican cartel “fast and furious” scandal. After all, the Justice Dept. was right in the middle of it. The answer to their national question is pretty simple; ask the Horry county politicians; they are having the documented guilty cops investigate themselves. They believe the South Carolina folks “are dumber than a pail of nails” and will not ask a single question. Just how is this working you may ask? Only time will tell.
The guilty are laughing at the citizens and hoping that nobody is smart enough to ask any questions. In Guilty Cop Keel's promotional hearings, not one of the elected officials had enough courage to ask one question. The good ole elected brothers of the south in Horry county do not have enough smarts to even figure out that they are looking incredibly stupid.
A commission is needed to study the documented corruption that is going on right under their noses. Instead they are asking the guilty parties to investigate themselves. Talk about stupid. Their is no cure for stupid.
Could somebody please tell these brain dead elected officials that the commission would have a real easy job. The documentation has already been compiled and they could probably use most of it and have no out of pocket expense.
Did you check out the video up above? The cops are telling how nobody checks on cops because they are cops. How scary is that stuff?
Unfortunately, the general public are like sheep going to slaughter and nobody but a very few even care. What can you do?
If your not in a position to help–at least help those brave people that are helping you. How? Answer is simple—give a donation to the Center for Legal Reform. These people are doing all the “heavy lifting” for you. Help them out.
The level of documented corruption is out of control. There is no question about it. Guilty Cop Keel is hoping that his constituents are lazy dumb people who do not know enough to even ask one question. He already knows he has the elected officials voted into office that fit that exact description.
Can you sleep better at night knowing the corruption continues and the elected people you voted into the public paying jobs are laughing all the way to the bank?
By Nicholas Williamson (commenting on the article at SCHotline.us)
October 30, 2011
A person in a truly pivotal position regarding corruption in the Southern Holdings Case and more generally in South Carolina is Noel Herold. Herold has allegedly testified in an expert witness capacity for the FBI in more than 100 cases, many of which had an internationally or even transnationally high profile. It is likely that more than one of these cases has turned on his testimony.
Plaintiffs in the Southern Holdings Case alleged and provided copious evidence of Herold’s performance of (subornation of) perjury in that case. Furthermore, Plaintiffs in the Southern Holdings Case filed with Federal District Court in Florence, South Carolina, and within a one year time period, 30 pages of substantiated allegations of fraud on that Court perpetrated by Herold and many others. NOT ONE WORD OF THAT DOCUMENT HAS EVER BEEN CONTRADICTED BY DEFENDANTS OR DEFENDANTS’ LEGAL COUNSELS IN THAT CASE!!!!
The Honorable Judge Bryan Harwell chose to characterize that 30 page document as being untimely in spite of the fact that (a) the document was filed within a one year time period and in spite of the fact that (b) the guidelines provided in the Hazel Atlas Glass Case ruled on by the United States Supreme Court confirm that there are no statutory time limits on documents alleging fraud on a Federal District Court case.
For many reasons, found at the local, state and national levels, Noel Herold needs to be questioned under oath regarding the allegations of his (subornation of) perjury in the Southern Holdings Case. If he is unable to successfully establish the legitimacy and truthfulness of his prior testimony in that Case and of the vitae that he submitted to that Court, then (a) he needs to be brought to justice, (b) the Southern Holdings Case needs to be reopened and retried, and (c) the impact of these revelations needs to be evaluated in light of the 100+ cases in which he has testified under oath as an expert witness.
I ask you, good Citizens of the State of South Carolina (and concerned citizens of other states in the U. S.), IS THERE ANY MORALLY GOOD AND LEGAL REASON NOT TO FOLLOW THE COURSE OF ACTION OUTLINED IN THE PRECEDING PARAGRAPH? (The morally good and legal reasons to go ahead and follow the course of action outlined in the preceding paragraph could not be summarized in less than 100 pages.)
$200,000,000+ TORT CLAIM FILED AGAINST THE CITY OF COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
From: Paul Gable
Sent: Tuesday, December 14, 2010 2:31 AM
To: Joe Azar
Subject: Tort Claims filed against the City of Columbia and the Columbia Police Department….
The Victims of the alleged Public Corruption in the Southern Holdings, Inc. case including Doris Holt and her son James Spencer, most of whom are Plaintiffs in a related lawsuit in Washington DC, are in the process of filing tort claims against the City of Columbia and the Columbia Police Department for alleged roles in the Public Corruption pertaining to Doris Holt and her rights to equal protection of the law under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Doris Holt’s health and welfare being used to blackmail the Plaintiffs to drop their legal actions.
Under South Carolina law, notice of the intent to file a lawsuit has to be submitted to the City of Columbia and its entities including but not limited to the Columbia Police Department before a lawsuit can be filed in DC Federal Court in this case. Washington DC, is the hub of the corruption according to the filings in DC Federal District Court. The evidence needed to bring such an action against the City of Columbia and the Columbia Police Department is now in the hands of the Plaintiffs’ experts and notices of tort claims are, therefore, now being issued against the Columbia Police Department and the City of Columbia as is the case below which is copied from the Tort Claims notice of the 93 year old victim, Doris Holt.
December 13, 2010
Kenneth E. Gaines, Esquire
Columbia City Attorney
Post Office Box 667
Columbia, South Carolina 29202
Sent via Fax 803-737-xxxx & US Certified Mail
Re: Filing of this Verified Claim under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-80 against the Columbia Police Department, the City of Columbia, and any and all applicable City of Columbia entities or sub-entities.
Dear Mr. Gaines:
On December 15, 2009, based on recommendations of 17-year veteran decorated former Police Officer Rodney Lail and retired FBI Special Agent in Charge (SAC) E. Johnson, James Spencer telephoned the Columbia, South Carolina Police Department. Spencer reported the physical abuse and neglect of his mother, Doris Holt, that he, Alan Geoghegan and Rodney Lail discovered earlier while Doris Holt was under the care of the UniHealth retirement home facility in Columbia, South Carolina.
As requested by the Columbia, Police Department, former Police Officer Rodney Lail and James Spencer met Columbia Police Officer K. C. Chatara and Officer Jose Arvelo after the telephone call on December 15, 2009, outside the UniHealth facility on Forest Drive in Columbia, SC. At that time, Officer Chatara and Officer Arvelo were given copies of pictures that documented that Doris Holt had a black eye and other acute physical injuries as of that date and time. Both Officers testified under oath that there was probable cause to conduct an investigation at that point in time on December 15, 2009, during their depositions on March 17, 2010.
However, during the deposition the officers admitted they did not conduct an investigation at any time, including on December 15, 2009, for various reasons that made no sense and at best were inconsistent. According to the officers during their deposition foremost, among the reasons for not conducting an investigation was that an individual who claimed she worked for the home and who met the Columbia Police officers when they came into the UniHealth facility suggested that James Spencer might be a suspect for causing the injuries to Doris Holt. Further, the individual, who did not provide identification, would not allow the police officers to even see Doris Holt.
This makes no logical sense, as it does not matter who was a possible suspect. The Columbia Police testified under oath that there was probable cause that a crime had been committed. Therefore, the Columbia Police were supposed to investigate regardless who the suspects might have been. The Columbia Police certainly should not have allowed a possible suspect to prevent the Columbia Police from seeing the purported victim.
Immediately after the meeting as Spencer and Lail drove away from the UniHealth facility, Columbia Police Supervisor, Darwin L. Daugherty, called Spencer and Lail on Spencer’s cell telephone and apologized for the Columbia Police officers not investigating given the obvious probable cause. Daugherty stated he did not understand what happened but would look into in and get back to Spencer with some answers as to why no investigation was conducted. Spencer, Lail and Daugherty talked for approximately forty-five minutes after Spencer and Lail left the UniHealth facility that evening. Daugherty stated he would have been at the facility himself but there was an armed robbery he was called to the scene of that evening. Spencer and Lail never heard from Daugherty again after that telephone call.
James Spencer, to gain answers as to why no investigation was conducted by the Columbia police officers on December 15, 2009, subsequently met with Investigator A. L. Merrill and Sergeant Drafts of the Columbia Police Department on December 23, 2009. At the conclusion of the meeting, Investigator Merrill stated she would find out what happened on the night of December 15, 2009, and determine both why and how the officers were prevented from investigating the alleged crime including viewing the victim Doris Holt, given the probable cause.
On December 29, 2009, former Police Officer Lail and James Spencer met with Colonel Carl Burke and Sergeant Drafts of the Columbia Police Department at the Columbia Police Department headquarters. During the meeting two pictures of Doris Holt purportedly taken on December 28, 2009, by Investigator Merrill were shown to Spencer and Lail. The pictures taken by Investigator Merrill on December 28, 2009 show a healthy looking, clean Doris Holt.
On March 17, 2010, Officer K. C. Chatara and Officer Jose Arvelo testified under oath that to the best of their knowledge there had never been an investigation of what happened on December 15, 2009, and neither officer was ever questioned by anybody concerning the events of that evening.
Five days earlier, on March 12, 2010, a report was presented by Dr. Susan Luberoff, MD, a Pediatrician to Investigator Merrill stating the photograph of the black eye on the 93 year old victim, Doris Holt, could represent bruising but she, the pediatrician, could not determine for sure if the bruises were from abuse. Subsequently, purportedly based on the “pediatrician’s” observations of the picture on March 22, 2010, Investigator Merrill closed her investigation of the matter without ever determining why the police officers were not allowed to investigate the crime that both officers testified they had probable cause to do.
Further, the City of Columbia in concert with the defendants in the Federal Tort Claims action in Washington, DC (C.A. No. 10-CV-210-PLF) in which Doris Holt and James Spencer are among the plaintiffs, purged all copies of medical records of Doris Holt from their files before turning copies over to James Spencer as Doris Holt’s lawful power of attorney and medical power of attorney. This is similar to the actions of the Defendants in the Washington DC, tort claims lawsuit. This was done to keep the medical records out of the hands of victim Doris Holt who has consistently requested her medical records, and out of the hands of Doris Holt’s self-appointed durable power of attorney and power of medical attorney, her son, James Spencer. These records were specifically requested through FOIA from the City of Columbia on April 14, 2010, by Doris Holt’s durable power of attorney and power of medical attorney and were agreed to be provided by the Public Information Office of the City of Columbia given the request was made by Doris Holt’s medical power of attorney.
Therefore, the Columbia Police Department and the City of Columbia were negligent by either not having police policy and procedures in place that allowed the police officers to investigate crimes based on the existence of probable cause, and/or failed to train police officers to not be deterred from investigating crimes with probable cause simply because a suspect tells them they are not allowed to investigate.
By either not having such a policy in place and/or not enforcing such policy the Columbia police and the City of Columbia created an environment that failed to provide equal protection under the law in violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which resulted in the following:
- The continued abuse and/or neglect of Doris Holt by Defendants in the tort claims action in Federal District Court in Washington, DC.
- Defendants in the tort claims action in DC Federal District Court following through with their threats of retaliation involving beatings, and mental and physical torture against 93 year old Doris Holt.
- With malice a forethought, the Columbia Police Officers and civilian personnel with the city of Columbia participated with Defendants in the civil rights lawsuit in DC Federal District Court by fabricating documentation to cover up the physical and psychological abuse of Doris Holt.
- A law enforcement environment that led to the total disappearance of Doris Holt in contempt of a standing Court Order, which resulted in the further physical and psychological torture of Doris Holt during her disappearance for nine months and continuing forward to this date.
- Allowed James Spencer to suffer severe mental torture as his mother had disappeared and he was not allowed to know if she was alive or dead during that nine-month period of time as he frantically searched for his mother Doris Holt and continuing forward to this date.
- The Columbia Police Department and the City of Columbia, by failing to fulfill its duty of providing equal protection under the law to Doris Holt and James Spencer under the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution, resulted in the violation of the 8th Amendment of the United States Constitution, which provides for freedom from unusual punishment.
On January 14, 2009, after obtaining a copy of the Manual of Investigative Operations and Guidelines (MIOG) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), it was discovered that the FBI in conjunction with others including, but not limited to, SLED and the South Carolina Insurance Reserve Fund, the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, Horry County, the Horry County Police Department, the Horry County Sheriff’s Department, Myrtle Beach, the Myrtle Beach Police Department with malice aforethought fully participated in and furthered a conspiracy including but not limited to depriving me of my civil rights “under color of law” including but not limited to violating the due process and equal protection guaranteed by the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution, and my right to a fair trial guaranteed by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. (See Pacer Docs. # 45-1 through 45-6, filed 01/29/09, Case # 08-1955, 4th Circuit US Court of Appeals.)
Bribed law enforcement officers in South Carolina under the direction of felon Harold Steve Hartness (Hartness is currently serving a multi-year Federal prison sentence, Prison ID # 22070-058; note: Felon Hartness arranged for the wrongful and baseless NCIC entry and BOLO that were input in North Carolina) entered and searched several victims’ homes without probable cause and without legal basis violating their 4th Amendment rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution.
Said actions are civil rights violations “under color of law” and as such, are violations of the search and seizure provisions of the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Victims were deprived of the right to free speech, guaranteed by the 1st amendment of the United States Constitution, “under color of law.” Victim Rodney Lail was dismissed from his job as a police officer by Myrtle Police Chief Gall for reporting the civil rights violations, which he had witnessed, to his police superiors and due to his wife’s refusing to comply with felon Harold Steve Hartness’ demands for his wife to change her stated objections and effectively allow Southern Holdings, Inc., to participate in illegal activities such as money laundering. In one instance, felon Harold Hartness ran the car in which Ms. Lail and their two minor children were riding off the road.
On February 21, 2001, victim James Spencer met with FBI SA Marsh in Columbia, SC, to file a civil rights complaint under color of law both with and without brutality. Also attending that meeting were two South Carolina law enforcement personnel (in violation of FBI-MIOG defined procedures). Victim Spencer reported and provided to the FBI primary evidence of the civil rights violations “under color of law”, both with and without brutality, and the names of victims, all of whom were victims of civil rights violations “under color of law.”
Contrary to the FBI requirements regarding reports of civil rights violations of this nature, no case(s) was (were) opened and no investigation was conducted by the FBI as a result of the reports given and the confirming evidence provided at February 21, 2001, meeting. All evidence concerning the February 21, 2001, meeting having occurred disappeared from the FBI files and the certified FBI-NCIC report produced on NCIC inquiries made on Spencer was also fabricated to conceal the meeting on February 21, 2001. The FBI violations with malice aforethought of Spencer’s and other victims rights included, but were not limited to, the due process guarantees under the 5th and 14th amendments of the United States Constitution. These violations and related conspiracy involving the FBI only became known to the victims on or about January 14, 2009.
Further, it became known on January 14, 2009, that the FBI participated in a conspiracy including, but not limited to, SLED and the SC Insurance Reserve Fund and the State Budget and Control Board depriving Spencer and other victims of their constitutional rights including, but not limited to, the right to a fair trial guaranteed by the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution. Individuals including, but not limited to, personnel with the FBI, SLED, the SC Insurance Reserve Fund and the SC State Budget and Control Board undermined the civil Federal District Court proceedings brought by Spencer and other victims regarding the civil rights violations “under color of law” with brutality against the perpetrators which included, but was not limited to, local law enforcement personnel and associated agencies and the civilians involved. The wrongful actions included, but were not limited to:
- With malice aforethought, the provision of fabricated and “certified” NCIC reports to Plaintiffs through the office of Senator Lindsey Graham, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, for use in Federal District Court proceedings brought by the Plaintiffs.
- With malice aforethought, the provision of “forensic” examination results that were fabricated, baseless and biased in favor of the law enforcement and civilian Defendants in the civil rights lawsuit.
- With malice aforethought, the provision of fabricated documentation to cover up the spoliation of evidence by the law enforcement and civilian Defendants in the civil rights lawsuit.
- With malice aforethought, the provision of Noel Herold an FBI employee at the public’s expense as a Defendants’ forensic expert witness. Noel Herold knowingly participated in subornation of perjury in conjunction with the law enforcement and civilian Defendants, at the FBI’s direction and at the public’s expense.
- With malice aforethought, the provision of Department of Justice attorneys who wrongfully invoked Federal Government confidentiality during the deposition of FBI forensic expert Herold as part of the conspiracy to cover up civil rights violations “under color of law” involving the FBI.
- With malice aforethought, participation of the FBI and Defendants and Defendants counsels in acts of fraud on the court, both known and unknown, as part of a conspiracy to deny the Plaintiffs their civil rights “under color of law” in violation of the 5th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
- When the Plaintiffs in the DC Federal District Court lawsuit discovered the FBI violated the Plaintiffs’ Constitutional rights by not following the mandatory procedures specified in MIOG, on January 14, 2009, this caused the constructive tolling of the statute of limitations against the state, local Federal officials and other participants in the conspiracy involving Southern Holdings, Inc., on January 14, 2009.
- Property Damage: The SC State entities’ and City of Columbia participation in violations with malice aforethought resulted in damages including loss of value to Southern Holdings, Inc. stock from $33.70 [per share] just prior to June 7, 2000, to $0.00 as a result of the perpetrators actions, and the loss of RICO civil remedies including, but not limited to, (3) times the loss of value per share, plus the current value lost component @ 6% compounding interest in addition to $200,000,000.00 in personal injury damages including the psychological torture of Doris Holt and her son James Spencer.
These traumatic events were part of a conspiracy involving civil rights violations “under color of law” including but not limited to violation of due process rights and equal protection under the 5th and 14th Amendments and with malice aforethought violation of the 5th Amendment guarantee of a right to a fair trial.
Time and Place of Loss: On or before June 6, 2000 to date, various locations.
Individuals Allegedly Involved:
· South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford
· Danny Parris of the SC Insurance Reserve Fund
· Major Mark Keel of SLED
· Captain Gainey of SLED
· Mike Prodan of SLED
· Lt. Michael J. Brown of SLED
· Chief Robert M. Stewart of SLED
· Captain David Caldwell of SLED
· former FBI-SA Thomas Marsh, now Director of Security, the South Carolina Lottery
· Robert E. Lee, Aiken Bridges law firm
· E. Glenn Elliott, Aiken Bridges law firm
· Jay Saleeby, Aiken Bridges law firm
· Sandra Senn, Senn, McDonald and Leinbach law firm
· Noel Herold, FBI Forensic Expert
· George Skaluba, FBI Forensic Expert
· John Weaver, Horry County Attorney
· Thomas R. Isabella, Jr., FBI-CJIS
· Monte Dell McKee, FBI CJIS
· Michael Kirkpatrick, Assistant Director, FBI – CJIS
· Albert Allen, Horry County Councilman
· Horry County Police Chief John Morgan
· former Horry County Police Chief Paul Goward
· Lt. Deputy Sheriff Beaty
· Horry County Sheriff Philip Thompson
· former Horry County Sheriff Teddy Henry
· David M. Hardy, FBI Records Section Chief
· Horry County Solicitor Gregg Hembree
· AUSA Marshal Prince
· former FBI SA Paul Gardner
· Horry County Police Lt. Jay Brantly
· Horry County Police Officer Charles McLendon
· Horry County Sheriff Deputy Causey
· Horry County Sheriff Deputy Sidney R. Thompson
· former Horry County Sheriff Deputy Jeff Caldwell
· Myrtle Beach Chief of Police Warren Gall
· former Guilford County Sheriff Deputies Bryant and Zimmerman
· former Guilford County Sheriff B. J. Barnes
· former Guilford County ADA Richard Panosh
· Linda Lawrence
· Ernest Morton
· Vivian Nichols
· Dave Smith
· Pam Smith
· Thomas Leath, Myrtle Beach, City Manager
· former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker
· FBI-SA Phil Celestini
· FBI-SA Donald Causey
· FBI-SA Andrew T. Hildreth
· Harold Steve Hartness
· Michael Steven Hartness
· Richard Way
· Ancil Garvin
· John Benson, DOJ
· Columbia Police Department Investigator A. J. Merrill
· Columbia Police Department Sgt. Drafts
· Columbia Police Department Colonel Carl Burke and John Doe(s)
Please consider this correspondence as meeting the requirements of a Verified Claim under S.C. Code Ann. § 15-78-80. If addressee(s) believes the Verified Claim is not consummated, please notify the sender by certified mail within thirty days upon receipt. Lack of such notice from addressee within thirty days after receipt shall be considered confirmation of addressee having received a proper Verified Claim under South Carolina law for said entity.
RODNEY LAIL, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS, V. UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, ET AL., DEFENDANTS
Rodney LAIL, et al., Plaintiffs,
UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action No. 10-0210 (PLF).
United States District Court, District of Columbia. March 24, 2011.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF SOUTH CAROLINA COLUMBIA DIVISION
Robert Holt, individually, and the Estate of Doris C. Holt, by and through Robert B. Holt, sole beneficiary,
South Carolina Department of Social Services;
South Carolina Ombudsman’s Office;
UniHealth Orangeburg , SC;
UniHealth Post Acute Care of Columbia;
Sgt. Darin L. Dougherty;
Sgt. George A. Drafts;
Columbia Police Department;
Lt. Governor Andre Bauer;
Lt. Governor Ken Ard;
Jayson F. Bring;
Palmetto Senior Care;
UHS-Pruitt Corporation; and
Lt. Col. Carl Burke,
C/A No.: 3:12-cv-03539-TLW
Plaintiffs, Robert B. Holt, also known as James Spencer, and the Estate of Doris Holt, by and through Robert B. Holt (“PlaintiffS”, proceeding in forma pauperis, filed this civil action on or about December 14, 2012, alleging various constitutional violations and personal injuries arising from the allegedly involuntary confinement of the late Doris Holt in nursing-home facilities. Plaintiffs assert both federal constitutional and statutory claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 1983, 1985; 5 U.S.C. § 301; 28 U.S.C. §§ 2674, 2680(h; and 18 U.S.C. § 1961, as well as supplemental state-law based torts claims. Plaintiffs seek monetary damages and injunctive relief. (Docs. #1; 99).
This matter now comes before the Court for review of the Report and Recommendation (“the Report”) issued on August 29, 2013 by United States Magistrate Judge Paige J. Gossett, to whom this case was previously assigned pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(d) (D.S.C.). (Doc. #26). In the Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this Court dismiss Plaintiffs’ claims against the following Defendants: Defendant South Carolina Department of Social Services and Defendant South Carolina Ombudsman’s Office.
(See Doc. #26). The Magistrate Judge’s Report recommends that those Defendants be summarily dismissed without prejudice as Defendants in the above-captioned case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B) because those Defendants are immune from Plaintiffs’ federal and state law claims under the Eleventh Amendment.
The Plaintiffs did not file Objections to the Report and Recommendation. The deadline for the parties to file Objections to the Report expired on September 16, 2013. (Doc. #26). This Court is charged with conducting a de novo review of any portion of the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation to which a specific objection is registered, and may accept, reject, or modify, in whole or in part, the recommendations contained in that report. 28 U.S.C. § 636. In the absence of objections to the Report and Recommendation of the Magistrate Judge, this Court is not required to give any explanation for adopting the recommendation. See Camby v. Davis, 718 F.2d 198, 199 (4th Cir. 1983).
1 The Magistrate Judge’s Report further recommended dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims against Defendant the State of South Carolina and the South Carolina Office on Aging under the same reasoning. However, Plaintiffs’ subsequently filed Amended Complaint (Doc. #99) did not list the State of South Carolina or the South Carolina Office on Aging as Defendants in this case. Therefore, the State of South Carolina and the South Carolina Office on Aging have been dismissed as Defendants in the instant case pursuant to the Amended Complaint. (Docs. #99; 100).The Court has carefully reviewed the Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation and all other relevant filings in this matter. After careful consideration, it is hereby ORDERED that the Report and Recommendation (Doc. #26) is ACCEPTED.
Accordingly, for the reasons articulated by the Magistrate Judge, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant South Carolina Department of Social Services and Defendant South Carolina Ombudsman’s Office be dismissed without prejudice as Defendants in the above-captioned case.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
s/Terry L. Wooten
Terry L. Wooten
Chief United States District Judge
May 21, 2014
Columbia, South Carolina
SOUTHERN HOLDINGS SETTLEMENT CHECK SAGA
By Paul Gable, SCHotline.us
January 6, 2014
A settlement check issued by the state of South Carolina for the Southern Holdings case has been held in abeyance for over six and one-half years while the plaintiffs in the case have continuously refused settlement of the case.
After six years in litigation where the state Insurance Reserve Fund spent several million dollars on lawyers defending the case, a rushed “settlement” was allegedly arranged between lawyers for the plaintiffs and lawyers for the defendants.
The alleged settlement took place behind closed doors with the federal trial judge, after jury selection was complete.
The plaintiffs in the Southern Holdings case, all represented by attorney John Rakowsky, never agreed to the settlement. No document exists with their signatures demonstrating agreement to the settlement, as required by state and federal law.
In fact, several of the plaintiffs said they never agreed to a settlement and were astounded when one was announced by the judge.
Within days of the alleged settlement, Rakowsky no longer represented the plaintiffs, who refused to accept and were proceeding to challenge the alleged settlement. A 60(d) motion to overturn the settlement, recuse the judge and move forward with the case remains active in federal court today.
However, 22 days after the alleged settlement was announced in court (May 8, 2007), the state of South Carolina issued a check (May 30, 2007) in the amount of $30,000 to “John R. Rakowsky, Esq. as Counsel for” Southern Holdings, Inc. and the individual plaintiffs.
By the time the check was issued, Rakowsky no longer represented any of the plaintiffs and he knew the plaintiffs refused to accept the proceeds of the check because they were challenging the settlement.
According to dates on the check, Rakowsky held it for nearly nine months before endorsing it over to attorney Desa Ballard for deposit.
By this time (February 25, 2008), Ballard was representing Rakowsky (as plaintiff) in an interpleader action (still ongoing today) to request the court to determine disposition of remaining litigation funds from the Southern Holdings case. The Southern Holdings plaintiffs, several (but not all) lending institutions and Rakowsky’s former co-counsel on the Southern Holdings case are defendants in the action.
An interpleader action originates when a party holds property on behalf of another but does not know to whom the property should be transferred. It asks the court to make the decision.
The $30,000 from the state is included in the interpleader action, according to records of the case. But, there is no indication of why the check was not returned to the state when it was known that the plaintiffs were not accepting the settlement.
In fact, according to a rather casual accounting of funds submitted to the court on behalf of Rakowsky, approximately $60,000 of litigation funds deposited by Rakowsky is not included in the interpleader action either.
The $30,000 certainly does not belong to Rakowsky or Ballard. It would appear to belong to the state of South Carolina because the Southern Holdings plaintiffs continue to refuse the alleged settlement.
Why was the $30,000 check not returned to the state, rather than being endorsed over to Ballard nine months after it was issued?