Friday, March 26, 2010

Regional Briefs


Former judge facing prison in embezzlement case

Sentencing for John W. Hart, a former family court judge and Aiken County attorney, has been set for April 15.

In September, Harte pleaded guilty to involvement in a plan to help a former client liquidate and conceal millions of dollars that had been stolen from a local company. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Harte will serve one year and one day in prison and turn over three bank accounts worth around $483,000.

Two Columbia tax attorneys have also been charged in the case, but have denied any involvement.

KKK event planner working around venue snag

Tim Bradly, Grand Dragon of the Church of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, isn’t letting a few setbacks dampen his enthusiasm for an upcoming membership drive and political rally.

The white supremacist group’s Aiken County event was originally scheduled for April, but has been postponed until June because the space they planned to book was already reserved by a youth baseball league. Bradly told the Aiken Standard he didn’t want the rally to disrupt the little league games.

The proposed new date for the rally is June 19. Bradly was made aware that the new date is the traditional date of Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the Emancipation Proclamation, only after he had set the new rally date and venue. The group plans to hold their rally, regardless, though Bradly said he wasn’t sure how attendance would be.

“I’ve had lots of emails, but if 100 people say they will come, it could still mean that only about 20 will be there,” he told the Standard.


Camper unnerved by surveillance camera in Francis Marion National Forest

Area outdoorsman, Herman Jacob, found more than he bargained for while collecting firewood on a recent camping trip in the Francis Marion National Forest; he found an unmarked video camera trained on a popular camping site.

According to the Charleston Post and Courier, Jacob took the camera home, notified local law enforcement and later received a call from the U.S. Forest Service, ordering him to return their camera. According to a spokesman for the Forest Service, the report states, the agency had set up the camera to monitor “illicit activities.”

The Forest Service reportedly refused to comment further on the cameras and gave no indication about what it does with the photographs it obtains, though a spokesperson told the Post and Courier that photos of persons who are not targets of an investigation are “not kept.”

Charleston attorney, Tim Kulp, whom Jacob contacted about the camera, expressed concern over a camper’s right to privacy and said the public’s expectations of privacy in the forest are different than in other public spaces.
“You’re not going to go to the bathroom in the parking lot of Wal-Mart,” he told the Post and Courier, “but you’re not going to think twice in the forest.”
Postal clerk accused of stealing, cashing customer money orders

A former clerk at the Johns Island post office has been accused of stealing and cashing money orders from Hispanic customers.

Investigators allege that at least eight victims, all Hispanic, purchased money orders from Chinequa Seabrook, 35, and that the money never reached its intended destinations. Police were alerted when one customer filed a complaint that a Postal Money Order for her child’s school tuition never arrived at the school, though records indicated that it had been cashed. A joint investigation by law enforcement and the post office branch found that the money orders never left their premises.
According to police, Seabrook is charged with financial identity fraud, breach of trust and forgery.

Jogger listening to iPod struck from behind by crashing plane

A single-engine airplane making an emergency landing accidentally struck and killed a man jogging on the beach.

According to multiple media reports, the plane, en route from Orlando to Norfolk, Va., experienced engine trouble and was instructed to land at the Hilton Head Airport. Before the pilot and his passenger could reach the airport, oil began to spray onto the windshield impeding visibility. Shortly thereafter, the plane’s propeller came off, forcing them to make an emergency landing on the beach.
Robert Jones, a pharmaceutical salesman from Woodstock, Ga., was jogging on the beach when he was struck and killed by the plane as it came down. Investigators said Jones appeared to have been listening to an iPod and wouldn’t have heard the near-silent, engineless plane as it glided down behind him.

Man upset over pending divorce, calls in bomb threat to courthouse

An Orangeburg man charged with making a bomb threat against the county courthouse has been released following a bond hearing.

Police said Melvin Bowman, 52, was taken into custody during the evacuation of the courthouse when he came into contact with a police officer and admitted to making the threat. He allegedly called in the threat after growing upset over a pending divorce.

If convicted, Bowman could face up to ten years in prison.

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