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Crime & Courts

Criminal Investigation Launched Into Alleged South Carolina Grand Jury Corruption

Delayed referral raises eyebrows …

On the same day our news outlet exclusively reported on allegations of grand jury fraud in Richland County, South Carolina, agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) announced they had received a referral for a criminal investigation of the matter.

SLED public information director Renée Wunderlich confirmed receipt of the referral from S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson.

“SLED was requested by the S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson on Thursday, September 7, 2023, to investigate irregularities involving the grand jury,” Wunderlich said. “SLED’s investigation is active and ongoing. No other details are available at this time.”

As we noted in our original report on Thursday, 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.” This scandal reportedly involves “fraudulently issued indictments, fabricated documents, forged signatures, the destruction of records and the suborning of perjury in connection with an ongoing internal investigation.”

The alleged fraud reportedly “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.”

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“It is not immediately clear whether the alleged fraud is the focus of an independent criminal investigation,” I noted in the report. “If it isn’t, it should be.”

Now it is …

This news outlet submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to Gipson’s office on Monday, September 4, 2023 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.

As of this writing, we have not received a response from Gipson’s office.

According to our sources, fifth circuit prosecutors first noticed “discrepancies” related to true-billed grand jury indictments as far back as May of 2023. For those of you unfamiliar with this process, grand juries can do one of three things when presented with evidence and testimony related to the alleged commission of a crime – 1) true-bill indictments (i.e. affirm there is sufficient evidence to refer the allegations for prosecution), 2) no-bill the indictments (i.e. decline to refer the allegations for prosecution) or 3) request additional information from prosecutors to aid in making their decision.

In the fraud case involving Gipson’s office, the court official in question not only forged signatures on true-billed indictments, they allegedly “told the foreperson to lie to the (fifth circuit)’s in-house investigator.”

Which the foreperson then proceeded to do, according to our sources …

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In fact, in an attempt to explain discrepancies in signatures on true-billed indictments, the foreperson reportedly told the investigator they were “trying out new signatures.”

That flimsy excuse fell apart almost immediately, however. According to multiple sources familiar with the forged indictments, they contained misspellings of the foreperson’s name.

On August 30, 2023, S.C. circuit court judge Daniel Coble quashed a first degree harassment indictment against defendant Orhue A. Omoregbee – who was facing several charges related to a January 2017 arrest. That indictment was reportedly among the true-billed indictments linked to the alleged fraud.

Omoregbee’s attorney, legendary South Carolina trial lawyer Jack Swerling, confirmed the mismatched signatures on two indictments against his client – saying they were “clearly not the same signature.”

While it is encouraging to learn there is an active criminal investigation into this matter, the lengthy delay in requesting it – and the curious timing of the request (on the same day our story broke) – is troubling. If prosecutors in the office became aware of the forgeries in May, there is no way it should have taken nearly four months to refer the matter to an independent agency for investigation.

Not unless there was an effort to sweep this scandal under the rug …

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

Will Folks (Dylan Nolan)

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 (soon to be eight) children.

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1 comment

Goody3 Top fan September 8, 2023 at 6:04 pm

Wait ….what?

Is the 5th Circuit solicitor Gipson (who filed the complaint) the same Gipson of the “Gipson,Esq-Sen.Ruherford-Hizzoner Manning” trifecta that perpetrated their OWN brand of ‘sleight-of-hand’ in re early-released convicted felon Jerome Price in early 2023??? And got his hand slapped by SC Supremes???? Everybody makes mistakes – but THIS was no mistake – it was more like a conspiracy among the 3 of them.

“The pot calling the kettle black” comes to mind. I’m actually a little bit surprised that the guy’s still got a job!!

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