An internal affairs investigation into the conduct of a Greenville county sheriff’s deputy tied to the ongoing Thornblade saga was a “sham,” according to multiple sources familiar with this so-called “inquiry.” Not only that, the sheriff’s captain running this department reportedly has a history of questionable behavior …
What sort of behavior? The kind our sources say could conceivably cloud his judgment when it comes to assessing alleged ethical lapses within this scandal-scarred department …
Why does this matter?
Aside from the obvious potential for hypocrisy in the day-to-day oversight of professional integrity within the Greenville county sheriff’s office, several leaders within this agency are already currently under investigation by agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
What a mess, people …
Anyway, a week ago this news outlet reported that the sheriff’s office had launched an internal investigation into the proximity of one of its officers to the various scandals enveloping the prestigious Thornblade Club – an upscale neighborhood organization that annually hosts a prominent golf tournament sponsored by BMW.
Which scandals? Good question … because when it comes to Thornblade, there is obviously no shortage from which to choose.
As we exclusively reported on July 23, 2020, allegations of serious financial irregularities have rocked this club – prompting an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service (USSS), an agency which has broad jurisdictional authority over “cyber-enabled financial crimes.” Meanwhile, far more serious (and salacious) allegations involving the Thornblade club are being probed by agents of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s special investigations unit – including the alleged activities of a group of men who apparently refer to themselves as “The Disciples.”
According to our sources, members of this secret club would pay an estimated $5,000 to $10,000 a month to enjoy its “amenities” – including romps with youthful sex partners provided from nearby high schools.
As for the sheriff’s internal affairs inquiry, it reportedly sought to determine whether the deputy in question failed to report to superiors his rumored knowledge of alleged illegal activity – including the dissemination of sexually explicit material to minors.
Unfortunately, it would appear as though the internal affairs inquiry did precious little “inquiring …”
According to our sources, this “investigation” consisted of two interviews – one with a source alleging improper conduct by deputy Michael Douglas and a second interview with Douglas himself. When the two narratives offered by the accuser and Douglas failed to reconcile, the sheriff’s office concluded it was the accuser’s word versus the deputy’s and “dropped it.”
Douglas has since been cleared by internal affairs, we are told, but he could still face questioning from federal agents who continue to investigate any number of allegations linked to Thornblade.
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Not everyone is pleased with the results of the internal affairs probe of Douglas (above) … such as it was.
“It was an absolute sham,” one of our sources said, saying the department “refused to interview” at least two individuals who could have shed light on the allegations.
The Douglas matter was referred to the sheriff’s office by DHS’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) unit, our sources say. In other words, the individual who accused Douglas of misconduct did not contact the sheriff’s office about the situation directly – but was instead called in for questioning by internal affairs on the recommendation of another law enforcement agency.
That adds some gravitas to the allegations, in our view.
What did Douglas allegedly do wrong?
We do not know … although as we noted in our prior coverage, he is said to be a “family friend” of Greenville, S.C. insurance marketing executive Rick Mathews and his former wife Jennifer Mathews – who runs a yoga and pilates studio in Greenville.
The Mathews have been at the center of speculation related to the Thornblade saga for some time now.
On Tuesday, September 1, 2020, we reported that Rick Mathews had been interviewed the previous Tuesday (August 25, 2020) by HSI agents. Two days later, Mathews issued a statement through his attorney confirming our reporting.
“I found out in late June of this year that my wife, Jennifer Mathews, had engaged in multiple extramarital activities,” Mathews said in the statement. “Upon learning of this fact, we separated and I filed for divorce in July.”
Mathews added that he was aware “there is an investigation being conducted” and that while he was “not a suspect in any illegal activity, I am cooperating fully with law enforcement and will continue to do so.”
In addition to Mathews, HSI agents have also reportedly been asking questions about Brian Gem Garrison – a former adjunct tennis coach at Eastside High School in Taylors, S.C. who was arrested and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor last spring.
Investigators were also “looking to interview several current and former students at Eastside High School – as well as several current and former employees of the Thornblade Club,” per one of our previous reports.
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While the Thornblade rumor mill was approaching a crescendo last week due to what appears to have been an unrelated suicide, this news outlet was busy investigating tips we received regarding captain Tim Brown – who runs the Greenville sheriff’s “office of professional standards.”
A.k.a. the internal affairs office …
According to our sources, Brown and two of the deputies at the heart of the agency’s ongoing time card scandal – Darius Hall and chief deputy Marcus Davenport – have been observed in some compromising situations together.
In particular, all three have allegedly frequented a recreational vehicle that hosted some especially wild University of South Carolina tailgating parties in recent years.
Obviously we have nothing against law enforcement officers blowing off steam and enjoying their liberties with other consenting adults, but this vehicle – nicknamed the “bang bus” – has been linked to some of the same type of questionable conduct that allegedly transpired at the Thornblade club.
Specifically, one witness claims to have seen several Greenville sheriff’s department leaders “giving shots to underage girls and hooking up in the back (of the bus) with them.”
The witness claimed Brown and several other deputies were “giving booze (away) and allowing underage drinking” and that Brown was seen on more than one occasion going “into the back room” of the recreational vehicle with young girls.
Another witness backed up that claim.
“I personally witnessed – from the outside – the partying and can confirm what you’ve stated,” the second witness said. “All the males who partied there were high ranking deputies of GCSO and all the females who entered the RV were young and blond. The majority of the deputies were married, but not one of them brought their wife with them. They partied hard and it was no secret what was going on there.”
There are also allegations of affairs with subordinates linked to the office of professional standards … which would be ironic considering such relationships fall under the very type of conduct the agency is supposed to be investigating.
To be clear: Douglas has not been linked to any of the “bang bus” allegations – nor has he been accused of any alleged affairs with subordinates.
Still, the behavior attributed to those in charge of investigating his conduct is deeply troubling … and raises additional questions as to the integrity of this office under the “leadership” of Lewis.
This news outlet will continue digging into all of these angles as we seek to get to the bottom of what really happened at Thornblade. In the meantime, we would encourage SLED to expand its current investigation of officer misconduct at the Greenville county sheriff’s office to include a review of the leadership of the office of professional responsibility.
Clearly the watchdogs there need watching as well …
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