Public Corruption and Southern Holdings

By Paul Gable

Public corruption is a hot topic today with politicians making illegal deals and other powerful interests using their influence to evade the law.

Too often the courts are also included in the process providing the final piece to the public corruption puzzle.

When this happens, the entire fabric of American society is torn and it’s difficult to see how it can be fixed.

Such is the story of the case of Southern Holdings et al v. Horry County et al.

In the Spring of the year 2000, Southern Holdings was a nice little 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.

After Southern Holdings gained the rights to these contracts, former Southern Holdings shareholder Ancil B. Garvin, III, a resident of Horry County at the time, attempted to get Southern Holdings President James Spencer to cut the remaining shareholders out of the profits.

What Spencer didn’t know then was that Garvin was selling cigarettes in the black market as well as with legitimate outlets.

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.” Spencer refused.

After being rebuffed by Spencer, Garvin authored a memo on May 18, 2000, to Southern Holdings shareholder David Smith, in which he laid out a conspiracy to oust Spencer, illegally take over the corporation and steal the $12-15 million from the cigarette contracts.

Garvin’s plan included using a corrupt sheriff’s deputy and assistant prosecutor in North Carolina to illegally enter a fake warrant for Spencer into the FBI’s NCIC data system and then, with the help of several corrupt law enforcement officers in Horry County, use that fake warrant to remove Spencer from the picture.

Garvin’s memo has always reminded me of the ramblings of Mein Kampf. He even titled it “The Final Solution,” which gives you some idea of its content.

However, among the ramblings in the six-page memo, Garvin makes the following statements:

“I am sure we can use the contacts…with the judges in Guilford County (NC) and their contacts at the beach to protect the operations to get the company.”

“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.”

Those statements were more than prophetic. They were a precursor to a massive coverup at the local, state and federal law enforcement and legal levels to limit the exposure of Horry County and the state to monetary damage claims.

Southern Holdings and Spencer filed suit against Horry County and a number of individual defendants in 2001. Horry County’s defense was provided by the S.C. Budget and Control Board’s Insurance Reserve Fund.

To date, the facts of the case have never been heard.

Defendants perjured themselves in depositions and affidavits in order to hide the true facts of the case.

FBI and SLED agents altered evidence and lied about it in order to support the false testimony of the defendants.

Judges ignored both statute and case law in rendering decisions and issuing orders in order to steer the case against the plaintiffs.

Even the plaintiffs’ attorneys got in on the game late and conspired with defendants’ attorneys and the judge to have a settlement announced in court, in May 2007, when one was never reached.

There is more to be heard about this case. It could take down a federal judge if the legal system works at all, but that remains to be seen.

We hear a lot of propaganda about justice being blind and courts seeking the truth. But none of that appears to be true. When one party is up against a powerful opponent with deep pockets and the right connections, it takes a miracle for the truth to be heard and a just verdict rendered.

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