A Florence County Sheriff’s Lieutenant has been charged for his role in an illegal gambling ring that took place in the state of South Carolina. Mark Edward Fuleihan, 48, was issued these charges by South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson.
Wilson claims that Feleihan took monetary bribes during a period from 2013-17 when he was still a sheriff’s lieutenant in Florence County. Fuleihan then provided services and information to the gambling ring, in which Fuleihan was also a part of.
Even though this operation seemed to end more than three years ago, Fuleihan continued to provide tips and information to the gambling ring. Fuleihan stopped taking monetary bribes in 2017 but continued to warn the operators of the ring of police action. This caused the investigation to take much longer to complete but ultimately will add an extra charge on to Fuleihain’s record.
Fuleihan joined the Florence County department as a deputy in 1995. He has worked in the organization this entire time until he was fired by William Barnes after it became clear that he was involved. Barnes was the Interim Sheriff of Florence County when he decided to let Fuleihan go.
Wilson did not disclose how much money Fuleihan received during his time as an informant to the gambling ring. Fuleihan is being charged with one count of violating the state’s Ethics Act. The charge is a felony.
If the state convicts Fuleihan, he could face up to 10 years in federal prison. The charge also comes with a fine up to $10,000, and it would keep Fuleihan from serving as a public official for the rest of his life.
South Carolina Has Strict No Gambling Laws
The state of South Carolina has some strict laws when it comes to gambling. The only legalized form of gambling in the state is through the state lottery, and there are no casinos located inside state borders.
This had led to an illegal underground gambling scene in the state, and it has also led to some strong violence. A shooting last fall in Sumter left one person dead, and three others injured in what police believe was associated with underground gambling operations.
Groups and organizations have tried to change the gambling laws within the state, but nothing has been done as of yet. The Palmetto Forum for Gaming Studies was a group that was formed to study how gambling could assist the state and provide much-needed revenue and funds.
The group was founded by Dr. Jim Rex, who is the former Superintendent of Education in the state. He was joined by Representative Con Chellis, who is also the former state treasurer.
They outlined how the state could tax the gambling industry to bring in added revenue for the state, but they were met with plenty of criticism. South Carolina has several popular beach towns that are tourist-friendly. These towns worried that gambling would take away from the family-friendly atmosphere.
State lawmakers did not introduce any bills during the 2019 legislative session, and nothing was done again in 2020. With the legislature currently shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s not likely that there will be any legislation proposed before 2021.
Residents of South Carolina that want to gamble will need to travel across the state border into North Carolina, which is home to many tribal casinos. It appears that the state is going to pass a law that will expand its gaming industry.