It’s been a terrible week for South Carolina’s system of “justice” – starting with the seismic allegations of jury tampering in the double homicide trial of convicted killer Alex Murdaugh. The following day, the S.C. supreme court published its opinion in the case of Jeroid J. Price – the convicted killer who was illegally freed from prison by retiring circuit court judge Casey Manning.
In that decision (.pdf), the court rebuked Manning and S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson for “fundamentally fail(ing) to follow the law” and engaging in efforts to “keep the public from knowing that Gipson agreed to have this convicted murderer released early.”
“Judge Manning committed multiple errors of law and acted outside his authority,” supreme court justice John Few wrote in a scathing opinion for the majority. “We are greatly troubled by the fact that neither solicitor Gipson nor judge Manning made any effort to comply with even one of the requirements (of the law).”
Now, a day after the Price opinion dropped, another major “justice” scandal is poised to rock the Palmetto State.
According to our sources, a far-reaching grand jury fraud scandal is about to tear through the South Carolina fifth circuit – which covers Richland and Kershaw counties in the Midlands region of the state. The scandal reportedly includes fraudulently issued indictments, fabricated documents, forged signatures, the destruction of records and the suborning of perjury in connection with an ongoing internal investigation.
It is not immediately clear whether the alleged fraud is the focus of an independent criminal investigation. If it isn’t, it should be.
On Monday, September 4, 2023, this media outlet submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Gipson’s office seeking “any and all reports, notes and emails related to any investigation related to grand jury fraud from April 2023 to present.”
To view that FOIA, click here.
According to our sources, the alleged fraud involves a court official who is accused of forging the signature of at least one grand jury foreperson on multiple indictments – and then engaging in various acts to cover-up this deception when a fifth circuit internal investigation into the alleged conduct was initiated.
“(The official) is forging documents,” a source familiar with the situation told us. “(They) also told the foreperson to lie to the in-house investigator.”
Did the foreperson follow this advice and lie?
According to our sources, “yes.”
This situation seeped into the public view last week when a judicial source directed us to a case heard before S.C. circuit court judge Daniel Coble. On August 30, 2023, Coble quashed a first degree harassment indictment against Orhue A. Omoregbee – who was facing several charges related to a January 2017 arrest.
(Click to view)
Why did Coble quash the indictment? Because it had been forged.
This news outlet was not in court at the time Coble issued his decision from the bench, however a quick review of the public index revealed Omoregbee’s attorney was none other than Jack Swerling – one of the Palmetto State’s most renowned, experienced trial lawyers.
I reached out to Swerling on Thursday morning (September 7, 2023) to see if he recalled the case. During our conversation, he confirmed “something irregular took place in the grand jury.”
“We have no idea what happened or who did it,” Swerling said, referring to mismatched signatures on two indictments against his client.
According to Swerling, upon inspection they were “clearly not the same signature.”
“First time I’d ever seen anything like that before,” Swerling said.
Swerling, incidentally, has more than a half century of experience as an attorney in South Carolina.
It is not immediately clear how many fraudulent indictments have been issued by fifth circuit grand juries, but count on this news outlet to keep our audience in the loop on anything our FOIA uncovers – as well as any new information gleaned from our network of sources.
UPDATE | Criminal investigation launched …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
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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