By Paul Blake
Two new lawsuits against proprietors of Beys Sports Bar and Popâ€™s Pizza were filed on April 6, 2010. J & J Sports Productions, Inc. alleges that on on May 5, 2007 Bey Rutherford illegally presented the WBC Light Middleweight Championship Fight: Oscar De La Hoya v. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. at his sports bar on Harden Street. A second suit filed by Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. alleges Rutherford illegally presented Ultimate Fighting Championship: Jason MacDonald v. Rory Singer on June 16, 2007. Both suits were filed by attorney Leonard R. Jordan, Jr. of Berry, Quackenbush and Stuart in Columbia, and seek over $150,000 in damages and compensation.
These are not the first lawsuits filed against Bey Rutherford since he moved to Columbia to open Popâ€™s Pizza and Beys Sports Bar. On Feb. 12, 2009, DirecTV filed a case in federal court for unauthorized reception of cable service. The case named John P. Sankey, The Daxlam LTD, and Popâ€™s Pizza.
In August of 2009, City Paper reported on court records showing Rutherford owes close to $10,000 to local advertising and marketing agencies. Those records allege that Rutherford was racking up large advertising and marketing bills and not paying the agencies for their services. Popâ€™s Pizza employeeâ€™s were busted stealing City Paper bundles from racks throughout Columbia during that edition, but the newspaper declined to press charges when it was clear Rutherford was going to allow his employees alone to take the rap.
As reported in an April 2007 City Paper investigation, Rutherford was born John Patrick Sankey, and changed his name to Madison Rutherford in late 1986. After faking his own death in July of 1998, Rutherford was operating under the name Thomas Bey Hamilton at an investment firm in Boston. Rutherford now calls himself â€œBey Rutherford,â€ but he is in fact the same â€œMadisonâ€ Rutherford who served five years in a Connecticut prison for fraud after withdrawing his neighborsâ€™ life savings and staging his death as part of an elaborate insurance scheme. The body that was burned in a rental car to fake his own death was never identified.
John P. Sankey is also the name of his father, whom Rutherford used to obtain the business and liquor license to operate in Five Points. Sankey is a Connecticut resident and appeared in Columbia the first few months when Rutherford was opening the establishments. Multiple sources have confirmed that Rutherford â€œsigns the paperworkâ€ and handles day to day operations and that Sankey is a Connecticut resident. Rutherford has previously identified himself as the owner of the bar to a local television station and other media outlets in Columbia.
In May 1996, Rutherford took out a $332,000 mortgage on an elderly womanâ€™s home without her knowledge. Rutherford had convinced Brigitte Beck to sign over power of attorney to manage her finances and eventually withdrew her life savings leaving her with $500, records show.
When City Paper interviewed Beck in 2007, she said: â€œI lost my ten-room home, which was paid for, and he knew darn well.â€
It is unclear how Rutherford has continued to operate with the liquor license he helped obtain from the state of South Carolina. State law requires: â€œThe applicant, all employees, and all principals must be of good moral character.â€