Friday, October 30, 2020

Former Florence County sheriff’s deputy arrested on bribery charges

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A former Florence County Sheriff’s deputy was arrested Thursday on bribery charges, the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office said.

Mark Edward Fuleihan, a 25-year veteran of the sheriff’s office was arrested on an Ethics Act bribery charge, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a news release.

Before he was taken into custody by South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and Homeland Security (HSI) agents, the 48-year-old Fuleihan was fired by Interim Florence County Sheriff William Barnes, according to the release.

Along with SLED and Homeland Security, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina, the Florence County Sheriff’s Office assisted into the investigation of Fuleihan, with the South Carolina Attorney General’s State Grand Jury Division.

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“We cannot comment on, or confirm the existence of, a pending investigation. Of course, even in light of the current pandemic, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina continues to work with federal, state, and local partners to honor its mission to protect the public,” said Peter McCoy, U.S. Attorney for South Carolina.

The investigation, which spanned from April 2017 to March 2020, began after the sheriff’s office learned of Fuleihan’s involvement in illegal gambling and it made a request to the other agencies.

Multiple sources said Fuleihan took monetary bribes between 2013 and 2017 from people involved in the illegal gambling operation, the attorney general’s office said.

Fuleihan took the bribes in exchange for information/services used to help the illegal gambling organization, and to ensure it avoided detection from other local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, according to the release.

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Cell phone records showed Fuleihan was communicating with the gambling organization on specific dates SLED was conducting enforcement action, between 2018 and 2020, the attorney general’s office said.

If he’s convicted of the felony, Fuleihan faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, according to South Carolina law. Anyone convicted of this crime is also permanently banned from being a public official or a public member, it said in the release.

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