Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Good Kind of Tailgatin

tailgate_it_up_poster_lr.jpg

 






On August 21, the Columbia
Marionette Theatre hosts its third Friday night artistic gala of the summer.  The event is produced by local entertainment
company Pocket Productions.  Admission
for tickets to “Playing after Dark III:  Tailgate
IT Up” is only $5.  Doors open at 7 p.m.  All ticket proceeds go to the artists.



Thursday, August 6, 2009

Shady business



By Paul Blake

Even though the live trees in front of Pop's NY Pizza are long gone, owner Bey Rutherford continues to run a shady business.

Rutherford, who has owned and operated the Columbia pizzeria at 707 Harden St. since 2007, is firmly establishing a reputation around town for not paying his bills. Fellow business owners, beware: Court records obtained by City Paper show Rutherford owes close to $10,000 to local advertising and marketing agencies.

One of the firms, The Ad Agency, declined to speak on record about Rutherford but confirmed the owner of Pop's Pizza owes $6,000 in advertising expenses. Cole Miller, a Columbia marketing executive who runs Mission Marketing, declined to comment as well, saying only that Rutherford’s business “didn’t pay their bills.”

On July 28, after learning of the court judgments against Rutherford, I paid a visit to Pop's Pizza. Rutherford was nowhere to be found. "It is hard to catch him because he is an owner," a manager told me.  It is best to leave a message with me."

So I did.

Rutherford called me back a few hours later, and I asked him about the judgments.

"How is that lawsuit going?" Rutherford says, referring to a libel judgment against City Paper that is under appeal.

In other words, Rutherford didn't have anything to say about the debts and judgments against him.

"Good day," he wished me before hanging up.

Of course, Rutherford is more than just a pizza-making businessman. He's a guy with an interesting past. In April 2007, in an investigation titled "What Do Want on Your Tombstone?" (Volume 2, Issue 20), Columbia City Paper reported that Bey Rutherford was the same person as Madison Rutherford, a convicted felon who faked his death and burned a man's body as part of an elaborate insurance-fraud scheme.

Rutherford's estranged wife, fortuneteller Rhynie Jefferson, went on record with Columbia City Paper for the first time last week. "Bey is not the same person I lived with for 19 years," Jefferson says. Jefferson describes Rutherford as a person who is "completely changed after he lost $1.5 million in the stock market." Jefferson also confirmed other allegations reported in Columbia City Paper's investigation, including that Rutherford had the assistance of Connecticut State Trooper Tom Petrinni in the fake death scheme. Jefferson went on to say she thought he killed the trees in front of Pop's Pizza because he once told her how to kill a tree "by driving a copper nail into it."

One thing that Jefferson was insistent on is that Columbia City Paper had it wrong in April 2007 regarding where Rutherford obtained the body he burned. "He told me the details," says Jefferson, who is working on a book about the case. Jefferson says Rutherford found a skeleton at a graveyard in Mexico, and while he was dragging it out, a Mexican man caught him. "He gave him $50 and told him, 'You saw nothing,'" Jefferson says. The unknown man responded: "No, Señor." This account is based solely on what Rutherford allegedly told his then-wife.

Jefferson's account, however, runs contrary to the findings of William Bass, a forensic anthropologist who worked on the case. Bass says the body was "fresh" and consistent with the remains of a 50- to 60-year-old Mexican peasant. Investigators also never identified a disturbed gravesite, and FBI Special Agent Joe Magnan told Columbia City Paper the government didn't pursue it further because they didn't need that information to prosecute the fraud case. Rutherford served three years in federal prison and then moved to Columbia to operate Pop's Pizza as well as Bey's Sports Bar.

But criminals can be rehabilitated, of course. The question is, has Rutherford changed?

I think not, particularly if you consider the most recent judgments against him and the sporting events he shows at Bey's Sports Bar, previously known as The Precinct.

Cable and DirecTV charge special rates to businesses that broadcast live events for profit -- such as a bar or restaurant showing a boxing match -- and Rutherford was allegedly pirating DirectTV and pay-per-view events. Many bar owners in Five Points were annoyed by the unfair advantage and their increased costs for conducting business properly.

On Feb. 12, 2009, DirecTV took notice and filed a case in federal court for unauthorized reception of cable service. The case named John P. Sankey, The Daxlam LTD, and Pop's Pizza.

If you ask me, the theft of NFL Sunday Ticket is a crime that can be forgiven, and struggling to pay bills is not uncommon for a small business in this economy.

But Rutherford's deliberate and calculated tactics against individuals and fellow small businesses makes his actions unforgivable.

Whether it is taking out a $322,000 mortgage against an elderly person's home without her knowlege as he did to Brigitte Beck in May 1996, or stiffing Greg White of the The Ad Agency for $6,000 in September 2008, one thing is for certain: it is the same Bey Rutherford.


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resident of richland county
R 2009-08-07 09:01:35
I worked for Bey @ the precinct 2 years ago. St. Patricks Day. Bey collected
all the tips that the bartenders made & took them into the office & locked them
up. We had garbage cans filled with tips that night. We were there until 4 a.m.
cleaning up. He kept all the tips & wrote people checks for next to nothing the
following day. He is a crook & the most shady business operator going.

Bey, was
also a womanizer. Bey would aggressively pursue young kids, married women &
serve underage girls to lure them in. He was a classless individual. I never
said anything before, but since I read this I felt the need that people who
frequent his establishments or are employed by him, should know what a monster
he really is. I'm shocked he hasn't had a sexual harassment suit filed against
him.
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A Small Business Owner's Reaction...
Liz Cooper, Owner/ Designer of 2009-08-07 15:04:09
After reading this article, I'm no longer surprised at how the SCDOR pillages
legit small business owners in Columbia via over taxation. I, as well as many
others, I'm sure, are paying for this man's dishonesty.
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Resident of Columbia 2009-08-20 12:10:32
The easiest way to deal with him is to stop eating as his establishments.
Dano's and Village Idiot have much better pizza any ways...and they won't rip
you off!
I urge you to pass this message, send emails, make calls, Twitter,
Facebook...whatever, just get this guy out of Columbia!!
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Spiritual Astrologer
Rhynie Jefferson 2009-09-13 20:08:25
Paul, you were going to add a correction and I did not see it. I AM A SPIRITUAL
ASTROLOGER and not a fortuneteller. I pay taxes and trained by two of the
greats in NYC for over twenty five years of serious study. B. Beck knew about
the mortgage because he told her he had a great tip in the stock market! I told
him not to do this. . . he did. Ths man sounds like a low life and I do
remember seeing "shades" of this but was always able to override ths
with the high road! We get away with NOTHING in the Universe - I do not envy his
road - he has stolen from many and hurt so many! When I was going to marry him I
told his chart to the gret Astrologer Zoltan S. Mason and Mr. Mason 's comment
was "he Bey Rutherford) talks a good game!!!! I deply regret not listening
to Mr. Mason!!!!