Crime & Courts

SC Probate Court Saga: Missing Money, Destroyed Documents, Forged Files

More questions arise as victims wait to hear from the Palmetto State’s supreme court …

When Richard Anthony Mogy died suddenly in a tractor accident on June 8, 2003 at the age of 42 at his farm in Sumter County, South Carolina, he left behind his wife, Cathy Mogy, and two children. Cathy, a nurse anesthetist, found herself overwhelmed with her new role as a widow and single parent – but the Mogy’s were planners. They had visited popular Florence estate attorney, Gary Crawford, before Richard died.

Richard Mogy was a partner in a property development business – TRC Properties LLC – with his best friend, Tony Hall and Cathy’s brother-in-law, Charlie Walls. The three partners decided it would be prudent to purchase a life insurance policy in case something happened to one of them and their spouses had to buy themselves out of the business.

The three set the policy up and it became effective at the end of May of 2003 — just over a week before Richard Mogy died.

The policy they set up is commonly known as a “key-man” life insurance policy in the amount of $1 million. A key-man policy is taken out in the name of the company – and the company is the beneficiary, not the individual members. When Richard Mogy died, Cathy became the third partner of TRC Properties. Yet she says she never saw a dime of this insurance money. But as a newly single mom with no business background, she didn’t know she should be asking questions.

(Click to view)

Tombstone of Richard Anthony Mogy (Provided)

In late 2022, Cathy Mogy started asking Crawford’s office for a copy of her late husband’s estate file. A property owned by Summerville Properties — another business in which Richard Mogy was a partner — was sold despite her objections. The other partners in the business signed an affidavit stating that Richard Mogy was never a partner –and Cathy Mogy was not currently a partner. A statement Cathy states is absolutely false. Any sale of the property required a unanimous vote from all partners per the original contract. This affidavit took away her ability to vote on the decision allowing the property to be sold despite her objections. Nevertheless, Cathy Mogy’s accountant needed information regarding the sale from the estate regarding the value of the property for the purpose of filing her taxes.

Around March 15, 2023 — with the tax deadline nearing — Cathy called Crawford’s office and demanded her file, stating she would take legal action if it was not made available to her immediately. Mogy was told the file would be ready for her review on Monday, March 20, 2023.

If you have followed our ongoing coverage of the Palmetto State’s probate court mess, you know what happened next …

Gary Crawford died by suicide in the parking lot of his law office on Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Like Craig Hanna – who was having similar issues obtaining his father’s estate files from Crawford – Columbia-based attorney Tucker Player was willing to assist her in recovering the documents. On May 11, 2023, a process server attempted to deliver a subpoena to Crawford’s law office for production of the Mogy and Hanna files. To their surprise, Rebecca Crawford – Gary’s wife and long-time legal assistant – refused service.

With no clarity as to the appointed successor to Gary Crawford’s firm, Player filed an emergency petition (.pdf) for a writ of injunction and appointment of receiver for Gary Crawford with the S.C. supreme court on May 24, 2023. In this filing, it was noted that in addition to the question of where the money from the $1 million insurance policy went, Cathy Mogy had obtained her file from Brown Johnson – who claims to be Gary Crawford’s successor – and that what they discovered therein was “troubling“.

For example, contained therein was a deed for a property transferred on May 25, 2004 for $103,632 to Cecil Edward Floyd Jr. (a.k.a. “Bubby”). When Cathy Mogy looked at her signature on the affidavit attached to the deed, she realized it was not her signature. In fact, it didn’t even look like her signature. And the witness who notarized it? Gary Crawford’s wife, Rebecca Crawford.

(Click to view)

(Via: Provided)

Troubling” indeed …

Mogy’s attorneys stated they are in the process of retaining a handwriting expert to fully investigate the authenticity of this signature, but notes considering the evidence, it is not believed this was a single transaction. The very real concern of the lack of any attorney currently maintaining and possessing the client files of Gary Crawford combined with the fact that the woman (Rebecca Crawford) who notarized what appears to be a forged signature is currently the only person in the custody and control of all those client files, is the very definition of a emergency situation.

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THE RESPONSE …

On June 5, 2023, attorney Walter B. Todd Jr. – who represents Rebecca Crawford and the law offices of Gary Crawford – filed a response which purportedly attempted to clarify some of the allegations laid out in the motion filed by Mogy’s attorney. Instead of providing answers, though, the filing brought even more questions to light.

According to Todd’s filing, Mogy was unsuccessful in obtaining her file because “she had no active file in March 2023 when Mr. Crawford died.” Yet in 2017, Gary Crawford drafted and witnessed a power of attorney for Cathy Mogy. Six years had not elapsed from the time that document was executed and the date when Mogy demanded her file in November 2022.

According to attorneys for the Crawfords, though, the files were destroyed.

According to the S.C. Bar Association’s ethics advisory opinion 02-14, “a client file is the property of the client, under Rule 1.15 it is appropriate for the lawyer to retain records of the property for a minimum of six years after the end of the representation. File contents should not be disposed of until such time as it is reasonable to believe that their disposal will not prejudice or potentially prejudice the rights of the client.”

Despite that six-year period being unelapsed, all the files of Cathy Mogy in the possession of the Crawford Law Firm had been destroyed.

And the $1 million life insurance policy? According to an affidavit submitted by Richard Mogy’s former business partner, Tommy E. Hall, he and the remaining partner in the business received the money.

“After Richard’s death, the proceeds of the policy on Richard were made payable to myself and Charles Wall who were the named beneficiaries of the policy. We each received a check in the amount of $500,000.00.”

(Click to view)

Affidavit of Tommy E. Hall (Provided)

As noted, the “key-man” policy on the life of Richard Mogy was purchased on behalf of TRC Properties LLC – meaning the company was the beneficiary. This is standard in “key man” insurance policies and is, in fact, a requirement to qualify for that type of insurance. Therefore, the benefits should have been paid to the company – not its individual members.

“Mr. Hall’s affidavit is essentially an admission of theft,” Tucker Player noted. “He and the other partner took a distribution from the company without making an equal disbursement to the third partner. That third partner was either Richard Mogy’s Estate or his sole heir, Catherine Mogy. Mr. Hall’s affidavit is the first notice of this unlawful activity and reaffirms the need for urgency in obtaining the files my client has sought for years.”

According to the attorney, each partner of TRC Properties should have received an equal share of the payout – or $333,333 – including Cathy Mogy as she became the third partner in the business as the heir of her late husband.

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As for the forged signature, an affidavit submitted by Rebecca Crawford sought to explain it away as an innocent mistake.

According to Crawford’s affidavit, the deed was prepared for Mogy to sign as the seller – and she confirmed Mogy did sign it (and she notarized the signature). However, she claimed “it appears that Cecil Edward Floyd, Jr., whom everyone calls ‘Bubby,’ actually signed the (accompanying) affidavit” – which according to her did not present a problem as “Bubby” was the purchaser in the transaction.

Crawford acknowledged in her affidavit that Cathy Mogy’s name should have been struck through – and “Bubby’s” name inserted in lieu thereof – but according to her, “any closing with Bubby has always been an adventure with him talking a lot and telling stories and entertaining everyone at the table.”

(Click to view)

Affidavit of Rebecca Crawford (Provided)

“This was probably what happened and Gary probably put the affidavit in front of Bubby, Bubby signed it, and none of us caught the fact that we actually had Mrs. Mogy’s name printed on the affidavit,” she claimed.

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According to Tucker Player, this unsubstantiated excuse for someone else signing his client’s name on a legal document is unacceptable. He further noted there was no accompanying affidavit from “Bubby” to affirm Crawford’s statement – or to compare signatures in an effort to see if “Bubby” was indeed the mystery signatory.

WHAT HAPPENS NOW?

To date, there has been no response by the S.C. supreme court to any of the filings made by Tucker Player on behalf of his clients. Furthermore, no files have been made available for examination as they were apparently destroyed sometime after Gary Crawford died by suicide.

Player believes the estates of Carlos Hanna and Richard Mogy are beset with fraud and other illegal actions. Among these actions? The attempted sale of a home belonging to Carlos’ widow – Georgia Hanna – for $225,000 without notice to any party (or any evidence presented as to the value of the home). Indeed, the original order from Darlington County probate judge Marvin Lawson actually stated the sale authorization was being issued “without notice.”

When Player filed a motion with the supreme court to vacate the sale, Lawson vacated his own order, recused himself from handling Georgia Hanna’s case, recused a conservator he had assigned to the case and attempted to send the matter back to Florence County.

Shortly after that, the presiding judge in Georgetown recused herself from the Hanna case and sent it back for reassignment due to a conflict.

It has yet to be reassigned.

At this time, there is currently no judge for either probate matter, and no conservator or guardian for Georgia Hanna who has Alzheimer’s Disease and resides in an assistant living facility. It is unknown what will happen if any medical decisions need to be made on her behalf nor is it known who is paying her bills — including those for both her living arrangements and her health insurance.

More importantly? It is not immediately clear how widespread these lingering issues are across the state …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Jenn Wood (Provided)

Jenn Wood is FITSNews’ incomparable research director. She’s also the producer of the FITSFiles and Cheer Incorporated podcasts and leading expert on all things Murdaugh/ South Carolina justice. A former private investigator with a criminal justice degree, evildoers beware, Jenn Wood is far from your average journalist! A deep dive researcher with a passion for truth and a heart for victims, this mom of two is pretty much a superhero in FITSNews country. Did we mention she’s married to a rocket scientist? (Lucky guy!) Got a story idea or a tip for Jenn? Email her at jenn@fitsnews.com.

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6 comments

tamara rhodes Top fan July 6, 2023 at 6:27 pm

Holy Crap … forget how widespread in the state … How bad is it in Florence County? I cannot believe it. Cathy Mogy is a wonderful person and it was devastating when Richard was killed. Just devastating.

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X July 7, 2023 at 2:24 am

Widespread, deep, constant

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Flossip Top fan July 8, 2023 at 6:06 pm

The lawyers are crooked, the judges are crooked, and we’re all at their mercy. And no one is doing anything about it–why would they? How many lawyers are actually in the state legislature (and in the US House & Senate)? They make the laws that allow them all to steal from all of us.

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Sharon Clark July 8, 2023 at 9:53 pm

Florence County Magistrate Court & Circuit Court are the WORST. I have given up and have decided to move out of the state and stay as far away from the state as I can at this time. I will just pay the judgement against me given at Magistrate Court, when what was decided was based on when the attorney & witness committed perjury on the stand. The proof came a month after the trial but before my appeal was heard at the Court of Common Pleas in Florence County. I filed to have it included as evidence of perjury immediately after receiving the proof from another federal agency. The first trial was continued when their attorney called off the day of the trial, claiming a “family emergency” AFTER realizing, from the online record, I had submitted & filed the evidence to prove the perjury. The good news is that it is still part of the documented record. I had to call for a medical continuance on the rescheduled appeal trial, which was denied in what was now a SEALED online courtroom. My filed evidence was ignored and the judge signed a perjured written document submitted by the attorney and found against me. At the magistrate court, my trial files, including the taped trial, were taken home by the Judge. He took the following day off, so that I was unable to get a copy of the recorded trial until a few days after the trial took place because the tape and my file went HOME WITH HIM. My initial appeal had to be filed without receiving the recorded trial tapes. The trial tape recording came to me in 6 parts, missing various parts of the trial, including where I asked for a medical continuation. All of that information was deleted from the trial tapes. In a separate hearing on the same matter, I was refused those hearing tapes completely. I was unable to get another lawyer to help me in Florence County after my original attorney learned there was a conflict of interest. It is interesting to note that I called and spoke with the opposing attorney office in my search prior to them being revealed as the opposing parties attorney of record! I have proof of the phone calls.

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Joy Gmmon Top fan July 31, 2023 at 6:31 pm

Jen, great article and very informative; this is how crooked some lawyers in SC think and do. I hope the widow what her family deserves in getting her inheritance. The lawyers know the ins and outs of probate rules and set this up for themselves. What an eye-opening article. Stay tough and show us more that happens in this case.

Reply
Don wall January 15, 2024 at 5:52 pm

Florence county seems to be crooked. What about William Timmons and Greenville count?

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