Highlights from the South Carolina Attorney General's Office.
April 15, 2005
The following are recent news highlights, excerpts and links from the South Carolina Attorney General's Office.
Both the House and Senate have passed a bill to encourage environmental law enforcement
South Carolina's environmental laws will mean more if a bill passed by both houses of the General Assembly is finalized and signed by the governor. This legislation should have been passed last year, but it got caught in a Senate filibuster-caused backlog. This year, both the House and Senate have passed the legislation. When House-Senate conferees agree on a final version of the bill, the governor should sign it. It would allow a more effective enforcement of the state's environmental laws. Attorney General Henry McMaster pushed the bill because investigators need those powers.
S.C. bill focuses on eco-crimes
COLUMBIA - The House gave key approval Wednesday to a Senate bill that would allow the state grand jury to investigate some environmental crimes. The Senate has passed the bill, but House members amended it to increase the amount of damages necessary to trigger a state grand jury investigation. The Senate version set the threshold at $1 million. Because the House amended the bill, the Senate would have to agree to those changes. If it doesn't, the bill likely will head to a conference committee where differences would be worked out. The Senate bill is similar to a House bill approved last week that now is in the Senate Judiciary Committee. South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster said the bill will give his agency better methods to investigate such crimes by forcing companies that harm the environment to open records and their managers to testify.
Florence man arrested in Internet predator sting
A Pennsylvania man with a wife at home is in jail accused of trying to lure what he thought was a South Carolina teen over the Internet. SLED agents say Michael Rothermel, 55, had an apartment in Florence and was working in South Carolina. Authorities say Rothermel thought he was chatting on the internet with a 13-year-old girl, but it was really an undercover SLED agent.
In his Florence County apartment, investigators discovered written accounts of rape along with other materials associated with bondage and madomasochistic sexual activity. It's evidence the Attorney General may be able to use when he prosecutes Rothermel under the state's internet predator law. It is a crime in South Carolina to stalk, lure or entice a child for abduction or assault.
McMaster helped push the legislation through the General Assembly a year ago this month. McMaster: "You never know, in a case like this, if we have just been able to divert a real disaster." (Video | Story)
House Looks at Tough New Meth Laws
Columbia Rep. Brady's legislation controls access to drug's key
Columbia, S.C. - A sub-committee of the state House of Representatives is considering legislation that will have a dramatic impact on the way the state is able to fight the exploding problem of methamphetamine (Meth) use and production. At the request of Attorney General Henry McMaster, Representative Brady has also added several new criminal penalties related to the possession of and byproducts from manufacture of meth.
House subcommittee approves tougher cockfighting penalty
Associated Press - A House subcommittee has passed a bill that would
increase the criminal penalty for cockfighting. Attorney General Henry McMaster testified in favor of the legislation, which would increase the penalty to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine and forfeiture of property used in connection with animal fighting. Currently, cockfighting is a misdemeanor punishable by 30 days in jail or a $100 fine. The bill passed on a 3-1 vote and now goes to the full Judiciary.
Carolina Investors depositors unsure how to report losses
Associated Press - At issue is whether all or some of the 12,000 who lost $278 million in the collapse are the victims of fraud, or whether the money should be reported like any other investment loss. The IRS won't comment on the Carolina Investors situation and says each claim will be reviewed separately. The state Department of Revenue says it will defer to the IRS. The state Attorney General's Office, which is prosecuting the case and has gotten securities fraud convictions against two of Carolina Investors' top officers, says it has no authority in the tax issue.
But if the IRS says people who lost money weren't defrauded, "certainly our position would be that two convictions for securities fraud would speak otherwise in the Carolina Investors situation," said Trey Walker, a spokesman for state Attorney General Henry McMaster.
Justice passes Benson case to Attorney General
A complaint against Sheriff Robby Benson was turned over to the S.C. Attorney General's Office last week, but Benson's wife has said she wants to end the case. Mark Plowden, a spokesman for S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, said Monday the state agency had received the request to take the case, but had not yet received the file.
Three in hog dog case to be arraigned today
Three of the five people charged in the hog dog case will be arraigned
today in the Chester County Courthouse. Only the first three will be
arraigned, according to Mark Plowden, spokesman for S.C. Attorney
General Henry McMaster. He said they are being arraigned because the
grand jury added the charges against them.
Longworth to be executed Friday for Spartanburg cinema murders
Associated Press- More than 14 years after the WestGate Mall cinema murders left Spartanburg reeling, the second of two convicted killers will be put to death by lethal injection. Richard Longworth, 36, is scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. Friday for his role in a grisly crime that left two college students dead, shattered two families and still echoes throughout the Upstate city. A day after a federal judge denied an appeal to spare Longworth's life, his lawyer filed another appeal to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the execution. A decision on the appeal could come any time Thursday or Friday, said Mark Plowden with the state attorney general's office. That decision could also be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, Plowden said.