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Rock Hill Criminal Defense Law Blog

Incriminating laptop leads to dozens of criminal charges

A woman who was contracted to do work for a South Carolina organization gave the FBI a laptop that happened to be filled with incriminating information against the group. Data on the computer included counterfeit documents and other tools to illegally make money. As a result, federal authorities built a case against the insular organization, known as the Irish Travelers, leading to federal charges for dozens of its members. The group lives in an Aiken-North Augusta community called Murphy Village.

Members of the Irish Travelers have been linked to illegal acts for several years, but this federal investigation is the closest glance yet at the group's schemes. Of the 50 members of the group that have been indicted since 2015, more than a dozen have been sentenced and all have entered guilty pleas. The woman who originally gave the incriminating laptop to investigators was given three years probation.

Are you under investigation for health care fraud?

Federal and state agencies continue to coordinate efforts to identify and prosecute various types of health care fraud. These efforts typically involve extensive investigations that can go on for a long time before the official filing of charges.

Health care providers can face many serious repercussions from a finding of fraud, which extend far beyond the already significant criminal penalties

Man allegedly killed by poisoned water

A 64-year-old man was found dead in his South Carolina home on July 21. His wife confessed to killing him after an autopsy revealed that he had elevated levels of a substance called tetrahydrozoline in his system. The 52-year-old woman admitted that she had put eye drops in his water for several days prior to his passing. While there was no clear motive for the killing, his family issued a statement denying that he was unfaithful to his wife.

There was a rumor about possible cheating based on a Facebook post, but the family said that it referred to her former spouse. Authorities say that the dead man's wife was the one who alerted them to the fact that he had passed. The woman was taken to York County Detention Center on charges of murder and tampering with a food or drug.

Drug sting leads to 32 arrests

A months-long drug sting led to the arrest of 32 South Carolina residents on Aug. 31, according to the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office. Deputies are still tracking down 20 more people as part of the operation.

Authorities obtained the arrest warrants after agents allegedly made a series of undercover drug purchases between March and July. Some of the drug sales reportedly took place near schools or parks, including Barr Street School, South Side School, Kershaw Elementary School, Buckelew Park and Stafford Belk Park. Of the 50 arrest warrants issued, 39 were for men and 11 were for women. Two extra defendants were taken into custody during the initial bust.

Insider trading charges hit pro football player

Football fans in South Carolina may be more familiar with Mychal Kendricks on the field than in dealing with investment matters, but the Cleveland Browns player was charged with insider trading by federal prosecutors. After the U.S. Attorney's office announced the charges on August 29, the Browns released the linebacker despite signing him to a one-year contract just months ago in June. Kendricks is accused of making around $1.2 million in profits on investments four years ago due to illegal insider information.

After the insider trading indictment was released, the football player issued a statement apologizing for his actions. He said that he knew that his actions were wrong and took full responsibility. Kendricks noted that he wanted to be "more than just a football player," and noted that he placed his trust in a more skilled, experienced friend. He said that his former friend was Harvard-educated and an investment banker with Goldman Sachs.

South Carolina authorities accuse man of seeking sex with teen

The Richland County Sheriff's Department took a 34-year-old man into custody on July 12 after an undercover sting operation identified him as pursuing sex with teenagers. Authorities released the man from jail after charging him with two counts of solicitation of a minor. If convicted, a judge could sentence him to up to 10 years in prison for each count as well as a $5,000 fine.

The investigation that produced these allegations against him involved law enforcement agents posing as girls age 14 or younger online. They worked through social media and engaged people allegedly looking to have sex with teenagers. Agents lured the man to a meeting place where they said that he expected to meet a young girl for the purpose of sex.

Finding a job after prison is not easy, but it can be done

Studies indicate that when people are released from prison, their greatest concern is finding a job. Some are no longer young, others are inexperienced and there are those who still struggle with substance abuse and other issues.

However, at both state and federal levels, there is a push to help former inmates find work. In South Carolina, the initiatives are working.

Broadcom co-founder charged with drug trafficking

South Carolina readers may not be aware that it's possible to be charged with trafficking without selling drugs. The way drug laws are written, a defendant could be charged with trafficking simply for possessing a large amount of illicit substances for personal use or to give to friends.

For example, tech billionaire Henry T. Nicholas III was arrested for alleged drug trafficking on Aug. 7. Apparently, the Broadcom co-founder was staying at a casino-resort in Las Vegas when hotel security discovered drugs in his suite. They contacted Las Vegas police, and responding officers allegedly discovered cocaine, ecstasy, heroin and methamphetamine in his possession. Both he and a female companion were taken into custody, charged with trafficking drugs and released on their own recognizance.

South Carolina man sentenced in child molestation case

A 26-year-old South Carolina man will spend at least 17 years in prison after a state judge handed down a 20-year sentence. The man was sentenced on Aug. 6 after pleading guilty to criminal sexual conduct in the first degree. He had been facing a charge of sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. The man will not be eligible for release until he has served at least 85 percent of his sentence according to reports.

The man was taken into custody following an investigation that began in October 2015. That was when an 8-year-old girl told her elementary school teachers that she had been the victim of a series of sexual assaults. Deputies from the Greenville County Sheriff's Office conducted the initial inquiries, and the case was forwarded to the State Law Enforcement Division after investigators concluded that the girl's accounts were credible.

Why drug possession charges create inequality

In South Carolina and most of the United States, the serious consequences associated with possession of controlled substances extend beyond imprisonment, probation and fines. For many defendants convicted of drug charges, their sentences turn into modern-day scarlet letters upon release.

Immigrants and minorities tend to be disproportionately affected by drug arrests and convictions. According to a recent research study published in the American Journal of Public Health, minorities convicted of drug crimes often end up having limited access to certain health and education benefits, not to mention the difficulties they face when seeking employment opportunities.

 York County Bar Association South Caroline Bar NACDL South carolina association of criminal defense lawyers United states court of appeals | For the Fourth Circuit
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Christopher A. Wellborn, P.A.
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