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.