By Paul Gable
Raids on internet sweepstakes cafes continued in Horry County yesterday and, for the first time we can confirm, several locations within the city limits of Myrtle Beach were targeted by SLED officers.
For the first time since internet sweepstakes cafes began operating in Horry County over two years ago, there is a consistent policy being carried out that the games are illegal throughout the county.
Prior to yesterday’s raids, internet sweepstakes cafes were declared illegal by a county magistrate and subject to closure and confiscation in the unincorporated areas of the county, but were allowed to operate unimpeded by law enforcement within the Myrtle Beach city limits.
While the raids were being carried out, a bill to close what are considered loopholes in state gambling laws that have allowed some magistrates statewide to declare internet sweepstakes legal, moved closer to becoming law.
Bill S-3 received third and final reading approval in the S.C. Senate January 16, 2013, and passed to the House on January 17, 2013, where it received first reading and was assigned to the House Judiciary Committee.
The bill literally flew through the Senate, where it was considered initially to face its strongest opposition, in eight calendar days. It was introduced and read the first time on January 8th, reported out of committee in one day and received final approval January 16th.
If it follows the same track in the House, the bill could be ready for Gov. Nikki Haley’s signature by the end of next week. It would take effect immediately upon receiving Haley’s signature ending several years in which the games were legal in certain areas of the state while illegal in other areas.
In a completely separate law enforcement matter, prosecutors asked a federal judge to reduce the sentence of convicted Bahama Island condo developer Tommy Hix, according to reports. Prosecutors said Hix’ cooperation has been vital in the indictment and upcoming prosecution of Duwayne Woods, who prosecutors are calling the “alleged mastermind” behind the condo scam that cost investors tens of millions of dollars.
Allegedly, Hix and his partner Jeff Shoup illegally transferred $4.5 million from investor deposits, which by law were supposed to be held in escrow, to Woods. In return, Woods was supposed to provide Hix and Shoup over $100 million in construction funds from his Atlewa Trust investment fund. Instead, Woods, allegedly, disappeared with most of the $4.5 million and Atlewa was discovered to be a scam.
According to court documents, Woods, Rufus Paul Harris and Ancil Garvin, III formed Atlewa Trust in 2004. Harris is currently serving 23 years in federal prison in connection with a bogus stock scam through an associated business Conversion Solutions Holdings, Inc.
Garvin remains a free man in Dalton, GA despite being connected in court documents to the bogus financing of Atlewa Trust and even more egregious criminal activities we have covered extensively in articles concerning the “Southern Holdings case”.
Why do federal prosecutors and, for that matter, state and local law enforcement officials continue to cast a ‘blind eye’ toward Garvin while aggressively pursuing his two partners in fraud, Woods and Harris?
What does Garvin know that is allowing him this ‘free pass’?