Southern Holdings SLED and FBI Coverup

By Paul Gable

(Ed. Note – GSD has posted many stories about the Southern Holdings et al v. Horry County et al lawsuit that was filed in 2002 and, allegedly, settled in May 2007. However, new evidence has since turned up in the intervening years casting ever greater doubt about the evidence, affidavits and depositions given by the defendants in the case. This new evidence of apparent coverup is the subject of a filing with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.)

New evidence uncovered in documents released by SLED pursuant to a July 2015 Freedom of Information Act request point to the fact that HCPD and SLED never intended to provide the original videotapes to the plaintiffs regardless of court orders, subpoenas or any other legal documents.

Videotapes of the illegal arrest of Southern Holdings president James Spencer were key pieces of evidence in the lawsuit against Horry County.

Where the original tapes of the arrest could be found were issues of question from the beginning of the case.

Finally, copies of the alleged original videotapes were sent to the plaintiffs (Southern Holdings, Spencer et al) expert analyst Steve Cain in March 2004.

Cain’s analysis gave strong indication that the tape copy he analyzed had been heavily edited. Cain submitted a three-page report in March 2004, to plaintiffs’ counsel in which he noted various anomalies that indicated editing of the tape.

“All of the above anomalies collectively cast serious doubt concerning the authenticity of portions of the original videotape from which this tape was reportedly manufactured by the Horry County Police Department,” read one section of Cain’s report.

Cain furthermore said he “strongly recommended” obtaining the original tape for examination and the original VCR that was used to produce the original tape (in order to confirm the editing, which would prove evidence tampering on the part of HCPD.)

After much court wrangling about the original videotapes, they were allegedly taken to Cain’s laboratory in Wisconsin by Defendants’ attorney Robert E. Lee on October 27, 2004, pursuant to Court Order 109, issued September 7, 2004, by Judge R. Bryan Harwell.

The following is a portion of Cain’s affidavit, submitted for the court record, about the Lee trip and Cain’s attempt to analyze the tapes:

“On October 27, 2004 Defendants’ Counsel Robert E. Lee personally delivered to my laboratory in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin three videotapes and one Mobil Vision System-7 camera and recorder. Counsel Lee identified the camera and recorder as the equipment used by Defendant Brantley to record the events at the scene on August 6, 2000.

“On October 27, 2004, I provided Counsel Lee with an article I authored entitled “Forensic Video.”  The article was published in The Forensic Examiner of Video Recordings – November/December- Fall 1999. The article discussed the use of the original recording equipment in the authentication process.

“On October 28, 2004, Defendants’ Counsel Lee, under the authority of Court Order 109, attended the preparation stages at my laboratory for the examination of the three videotapes. On October 28, 2009, Defendants’ Counsel Lee asked me about alternative methods to authenticate if the Brantley videotape he delivered was the original if he (Lee) had not delivered the recorder and camera used by Brantley to record the original videotape.

“I described an alternative method which involved the use of an exemplar videotape (any other videotape ever recorded by the same equipment used by Brantley on the scene on August 6, 2000} to determine the authenticity of the Brantley videotape…

“On October 28, 2004, before the actual examination of the three videotapes began and after I described the use of exemplar videotapes to authenticate the videotape as an original recorded by a specific recorder, Defendants’ Counsel Lee unexpectedly took the videotapes he had delivered to me and left the laboratory. (Lee immediately returned to South Carolina with the tapes.)

“On or about October 31, 2004, I determined that the recording equipment Mr. Lee had delivered to me was in fact not the equipment used by Defendant Brantley, as identified by Counsel Lee, but was in fact the equipment used by Defendant McClendon to record events at the scene of August 6, 2000.”

Why the quick exit and misrepresentations by Attorney Lee?

New evidence uncovered in documents released by SLED pursuant to a July 2015 Freedom of Information Act request point to the fact that HCPD and SLED never intended to provide the original videotapes to the plaintiffs regardless of court orders, subpoenas or any other legal documents.

SLED apparently falsified documents to make it appear that they first received the videotapes from Lee on November 30, 2004. A complete paper trail purportedly sending them to the FBI in December 2004 and receiving them back in January 2005 appears to have been created.

This was set up to coincide with a second order by Judge Harwell, Court Order 127, filed December 10, 2004, directing what actions should be taken so that both plaintiffs and defendants experts could examine the tapes.

However, notes by Captain David Caldwell, provided with the July 2015 FOIA documents, show Caldwell was ordered by, then, Major Mark Keel on October 13, 2004, to “get the tapes to the Columbia FBI office in 2 days.”

According to his notes, Caldwell spoke with resident agent Joe Fedison at the Columbia FBI office on the morning of October 14, 2004. Fedison told Caldwell to call resident agent Vince Flamini at the Florence FBI office. Caldwell spoke with Flamini on the morning of October 14, 2004. Flamini said he would be in Columbia the next day and would pick up the tapes.

Flamini called back Caldwell the morning of October 15, 2004 to say he did not need the tapes, but to find someone in SLED familiar with the case. Caldwell’s notes say he tried to find SLED agent Michael Prodan.

At 12:25 p.m. October 15, 2004, Caldwell called Flamini again. According to the notes, Flamini told Caldwell to mail the tapes to Quantico, Va. Flamini told Caldwell he would get him the address.

So the tapes went to Quantico on October 15, 2004, even though they were ostensibly provided to Cain 12 days later and the paper trail purportedly sending them to the FBI only dates from November 30, 2004.

And sending the tapes to the FBI at any time violates federal law and FBI regulations. see here: FBI WILL NOT DO AN EXAM

SLED and the FBI coordinated together to subvert court orders and do as they wished with the original videotapes while intentionally breaking FBI regulations and federal law. So much for the integrity of the law enforcement agencies.

From that point on, the Southern Holdings case was one big coverup after another to keep the truth from the plaintiffs and never let the case go to trial.

And we have not heard the end of all that was done by law enforcement agencies, lawyers and judges to subvert the legal system and attempt to make the Southern Holdings plaintiffs and their continued efforts at finding the truth go away.

FOIA document – see Caldwell’s notes on page 3:Request to find Michael Prodan and to circumvent court order 109 to get hold of tapes

Court Order 109: Court Order 109

Court Order 127: Court Order 127

Comments are closed.