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Tag: South Carolina

Former FBI Chief of Staff Corey Ellis Named Interim U.S. Attorney

Corey F. Ellis

By Steve Neavling

Corey F. Ellis, former FBI chief of staff, has been appointed as interim U.S. Attorney for the District of South Carolina. 

Ellis is replacing former acting U.S. Attorney M. Rhett DeHart and will be responsible for federal criminal prosecutions and civil litigation within South Carolina. He’ll supervise about 62 U.S. attorneys, 75 support staff and 18 contract support staff, the DOJ said in a statement.

Ellis served as chief of staff for FBI Director Christopher Wray. He also held several leadership roles in the Justice Department, including as chief of staff to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. Ellis also was the first assistant in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina. 

His career as a prosecutor began in the district attorney’s office in Hendersonville, North Carolina. 

Ellis received an undergraduate degree from Brown University and his law degree from the University of Memphis School of Law. 

Homeland Security Agent Tasered Following Confrontation with Detective

Carmelo Manuel Viera. Photo: Dorchester County Sheriff’s Office. 

By Steve Neavling

A sheriff’s deputy tasered a Homeland Security agent after he allegedly pointed a loaded handgun at two people in a South Carolina sports bar. 

Carmelo Manuel Viera, 47, of Summerville, was charged with two counts of pointing a firearm at a person, unlawful carrying of a pistol, domestic violence and resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, The Post and Carrier reports.

He faces up to 10 years in prison. 

Deputies were called to Shenanigan’s Bar to investigate a man pointing a gun at a woman and bouncer. 

A detective spotted Viera driving a car behind the pub with one of the victims. When Viera was ordered to get out of the car, he walked toward the detective, even though he had been ordered to stop walking. At one point, Viera swung a fist at the detective and then returned to his car and reversed out of the alleyway, according to police. 

Using his squad car, the detective blocked Viera in the alleyway. Viera again exited his car and walked toward the detective, who pulled out his gun and told Viera multiple times to stop walking, according to the report.  

An arriving deputy fired his Taser at Viera, who was incapacitated and then booked in the Dorchester County jail. 

At the time of the incident, Viera was on administrative leave from his Homeland Security job. 

Man Found Dead by Neighbor Was a Most Wanted Fugitive

Most wanted fugitive Frederick Cecil McLean. Photo: U.S. Marshals Service

By Steve Neavling

For 16 years, Frederick Cecil McLean had evaded capture while on the U.S. Marshals Service’ Most Wanted List. 

Then a resident in a small South Carolina town checked on her elderly neighbor earlier this month and discovered his decomposing body inside his home. 

That neighbor was McLean, who was wanted on child molestation charges in San Diego County. He was living under an alias. 

“The discovery of Frederick McLean’s body marks an end to the manhunt, but the investigation continues,” U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis said in a statement. “I want to personally thank the men and women of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the Oconee County Coroner’s Office who dedicated hundreds of man hours helping the Marshals identify the body and gather evidence allowing us to gain a better picture of McLean’s life as a fugitive.

During an autopsy on Nov. 15, the fingerprints on the body matched McLean’s. 

No foul play was suspected in his death. 

McLean, 70, was wanted on multiple counts of sexual assault on child and was considered a high risk for sexually assaulting young girls. One of the victims alleged McLean assaulted her more than 100 times over a seven-year period beginning when she was 5 years old.

“We wish McLean’s fate had been determined by a court of law 15 years ago,” U.S. Marshal Steve Stafford of the Southern District of California said. “The investigators working on this case never gave up. We hope McLean’s death brings some sense of closure for the victims and their families, especially knowing he can never hurt another child.”


White Restaurant Owner Who Enslaved a Disabled Black Man Gets 10 Years in Prison

Bobby Paul Edwards

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

A white restaurant manager who forced a disabled black man to work more than 100 hours a week without pay has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Bobby Paul Edwards, 54, beat, burned and hurled racist slurs at John Christopher Smith to make him work harder at a small diner in Conway, South Carolina, the Justice Department said.

“This abusive enslavement of a vulnerable person is shocking,” Jody Norris, FBI special agent in charge of the Columbia Division, said in a statement. “The FBI is always vigilantly searching for these offenses and stands ready to bring perpetrators to justice and help victims reclaim their lives. We understand human trafficking takes many forms and we encourage anyone with information related to these crimes to contact the FBI.”

Edwards used his belt, fists, pots and pans to beat Smith, federal prosecutors said. In one instance, Edwards burned Smith’s neck with metal tongs dipped in hot grease.

The abuse occurred between 2009 and 2014, when Edwards was the manager. State authorities rescued Smith after receiving a tip about the abuse.

The FBI led the investigation.

Edwards pleaded guilty to forced labor on June 4.

“It is almost inconceivable that instances of forced labor endure in this country to this day – a century and a half after the Emancipation Proclamation,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division said. “The Department of Justice will continue to investigate, prosecute, and convict human traffickers involved in forced labor, seeking justice on behalf of their victims.”

South Carolina Officers Thought They Were Protecting Drug Traffickers. It Was an FBI Sting

By Steve Neavling

ticklethewire.com

Three South Carolina law enforcement officers who accepted money in exchange for protecting what they thought were drug traffickers have pleaded guilty.

Turns out, the Mexican drug-trafficking cartel was actually a group of undercover FBI agents.

A former Springfield officer and two Orangeburg County deputies pleaded guilty Tuesday to federal charges connected to the sting, The State reports.

The law enforcement officials believed they were guarding cartel trucks full of cash and drugs that were traveling south on Interstate 26 through Orangeburg County.

They were indicted in March.

Four other officers have pending cases.

The FBI used wiretaps and covert videos showing the officers agreed to “guard” the trucks.

White S.C. Man Tried to Hire Hitman to Hang Black Neighbor, Burn Cross in Yard

Brandon Cory Lecroy

By Steve Neavling
Ticklethewire.com

A white South Carolina man wanted to hire someone to kill and hang his black neighbor and then place a “flaming cross” in his yard.

Little did he know, the man he tried to hire turned out to be an undercover FBI agent, according tot he U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The Slate reports that Brandon Cory Lecroy, 25, was  charged with solicitation to commit a crime of violence and use of interstate commerce facilities int he commission of murder-for-hire.

Police said the Greenwood County man found the undercover agent through a white supremacist group and offered $500 for the murder.

Lecroy told the agent he wanted “hang his neighbor from a tree” and have a “burning cross” staked in the front yard. Authorities said Lecroy even advised the agent of the best time to murder his neighbor and offered money for future murders.

Lecroy, who was arrested after he provided a $100 down payment to murder his neighbor, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Americn in Custody Again After Threatening to Join ISIS, Kill an American

ISIS flag

ISIS flag

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An 18-year-old South Carolina man who was accused of hatching a plan to kill soldiers as revenge for American military action in the Middle East was granted early release last May.

Now Zakaryia Abdin is back in custody after a grand jury indicted him Tuesday on a charge of providing material support to a terrorist organization, the Associated Press reports. 

This time he is accused of telling an undercover agent, whom he thought was an Islamic State recruiter, that he wanted to join the terrorist organization and torture an American on video.

Authorities arrested Abdin as he tried to board a plane to Jordan last week.

He’s accused of telling an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to be show on video torturing an American hostage because “I want to be the one to send the message because they know who I am.”

Dylann Roof’s Friend to Be Sentenced to 27-33 Months for Lying to FBI

Dylann Roof

Dylann Roof

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A week before Dylann Roof killed nine people at a historically black church in South Carolina, he shared his plans with a friend as they drank vodka and snorted cocaine about a week earlier.

Now his friend, Joey Meek, is expected to be sentenced today to 27 to 33 months in prison for lying to the FBI, the New York Post reports.

Authorities say Meek lied to the FBI about the plot and even encouraged friends not to alert authorities about it.

Roof was sentenced to death for the June 2015 shooting.

Roof, an admitted racist, shot people inside an Emanuel AME church.