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South Carolina Executive’s Resignation Draws Federal Scrutiny

Possible link to Thornblade saga?

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The abrupt resignation (termination?) of a prominent Upstate South Carolina executive is tied to a pending federal fraud investigation, law enforcement sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to this news outlet. Not only that, the disgraced executive at the heart of this probe – Jody Gallagher – has been linked to another federal inquiry involving the infamous Thornblade scandal of 2020.

That’s right … Thornblade. Despite hundreds of thousands of dollars in payouts and innumerable non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) floating across the Palmetto Upstate over the past three years, it appears this story hasn’t been completely snuffed out.

Up until two weeks ago, Gallagher was president and chief executive officer of AFL Global – a Japanese-owned company headquartered in Duncan, S.C. AFL is a subsidiary of Fujikura, a Tokyo-based telecommunications firm. According to its website, AFL works with “very large energy and service providers” as well as small businesses in deploying fiber optic networks.

Gallagher is also a former president of Thornblade – an exclusive private club located within an upscale Greer, S.C. neighborhood of the same name. As recently as 2021, he was still a member of its governing board. Thornblade is located about five miles east of Greenville, S.C. and is best known for hosting an annual charity golf tournament sponsored by BMW.

Or at least that’s what it was best known for …

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In the summer of 2020, allegations of embezzlement and other financial irregularities at the club morphed into reports of a rumored prostitution ring (or “sex ring”) involving multiple residents in the Thornblade neighborhood. The rumored sex ring was probed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s special investigations unit (HSI) – the same agency currently investigating allegations of underage sex crimes tied to the Rockstar Cheer scandal.

What happened to the Thornblade investigation? As I noted last summer, federal and state prosecutors were unable to prove anything beyond sexual activity among consenting “adults.” Meanwhile everyone associated with this saga reportedly “lawyered up” and “paid a pretty penny to make the whole thing go away.”

Documents released by local authorities in connection with the scandal were also heavily redacted.

So … what happened to Gallagher? It’s not immediately clear … and his former employer is sending mixed messages about his departure.

A week ago, Fujikura chief executive officer Naoki Okada sent a memo to company employees informing them Gallagher was “no longer employed with AFL in any capacity.” Okada indicated Gallagher had been replaced by Jaxon Lang – a move which was formally announced on June 6, 2023 in response to Gallagher’s “resignation from his position.”

A day after that statement was issued, however, the company told digital media manager Stephanie Moore of WYFF TV-4 (NBC – Greenville, S.C.). According to Moore, the company told her Gallagher had been “suspended pending an internal investigation.”

So which is it?

(Click to View)

Jody Gallagher (AFL)

The 65-year-old executive – who resides in Greenville – took the reins of AFL in 2003. He was also a member of Fujikura’s board of directors – its first and only American member, in fact.

“As some of you may already know, improper practice has been identified within AFL, which is still under investigation,” Okada wrote in his letter last week. “We will deeply analyze the cause, prevent recurrence and share the information appropriately with all AFL employees.”

Okada further noted that under the leadership of Lane, “we will also work to create an organization that is free of such irregularities.”

So … what happened?

On May 26, 2023, a news release (.pdf) from Fujikura addressed allegations of an “improper acquisition … with respect to certain real property of one of our consolidated U.S. subsidiaries.”

“Based on a whistleblowing complaint made on March 3, 2023, we were made aware of suspicious activities regarding the personal misappropriation of real property owned by one of our U.S. subsidiaries by a director of the company, who is the CEO of such subsidiary, and launched an internal investigation immediately thereafter,” the release continued. “Our investigation is still continuing at this moment, however, to date, it has uncovered that an improper acquisition was made with respect to land purchased in 2020 and a building built in 2022 by such subsidiary.”

(Click to View)

(Via: Fujikura)

The release further claimed Gallagher “disguised the purpose for acquiring the land and building to make such subsidiary acquire such property and that said officer used such property for a certain period for (his) personal purpose.”

A copy of this news release was first obtained by digital media manager Stephanie Moore of WYFF TV-4 (NBC – Greenville, S.C.). According to Moore, the company told her Gallagher had been “suspended pending an internal investigation.”

“No other comments are available at this time,” the company told Moore.

Moore further noted AFL would not confirm “whether this investigation led to Gallagher being suspended.”

In January, Gallagher was named as one of the fifty “most influential” businessmen in the Upstate, according to Greenville Business Magazine.

“I am honored to be selected as one of Greenville’s most influential people for the class of 2022,” he said at the time. “I love this community and it’s a true privilege to be recognized alongside so many incredible people who have lasting impacts on this area.”

As recently as 2019, Fujikura leaders were singing Gallagher’s praises – and citing their trust in his leadership.

“Fujikura’s international presence is essential to the company’s growth,” AFL vice-chairman Satoru Ogawa told The Japan Times. “Our trust in Jody’s leadership shows how important these markets are to us.” 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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1 comment

BL Zebub June 8, 2023 at 3:14 pm

“Come on man!”

He was taking the Biden path to prosperity via “the grift”. I mean, he’s 65, his retirement package wasn’t that great. The Japs owed him.

You can’t bang HS tennis chicks with the same verve at 65 you could at 45 either, so grifting 6.5 million provides some excitement that you can’t quite get anymore.

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