In the law enforcement world, he was a trusted top deputy in the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.
In the criminal world, he was a kingpin who protected illegal gambling from law enforcement raids and got big payoffs.
And on Wednesday, his double life exposed, former Florence County sheriff’s deputy Lt. Mark Edward Fuleihan, 49, was sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison by Chief U.S. District Judge R. Bryan Harwell.
Evidence in the public corruption case — the result of a joint state-federal operation — showed that Fuleihan “was essential to the ability of the gambling operation to operate,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Thursday in a news release.
Fuleihan used his former position as a senior officer with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office to uncover details about the joint federal and state investigation into the illegal gambling operation, which included calling South Carolina Law Enforcement officials and requesting to be informed about any upcoming operations related to gambling enforcement, according to the release.
Fuleihan would share this information with members of the illegal gambling operation, and the members would use it to evade law enforcement and to destroy “potentially relevant evidence,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“We trust our law enforcement officers to protect society and stand against wrongdoing,” acting U.S. Attorney Rhett DeHart said in the release. “When an officer violates that trust, it is imperative that we hold them accountable. I commend our state and federal partners for doing just that in this case. This team was able to dismantle a criminal organization that was bolstered by a crooked cop and to send that officer to prison.”
Fuleihan was one of nine people charged in the case and is among eight defendants who have pleaded guilty for their role in the illegal operation, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Illegal gambling houses in the Pee Dee region had operated since at least 2014, evidence showed. Gambling revolved around illegal betting machines and law officers documented approximately $1 million in cash being deposited into the accounts of at least two members of the gambling organization.
Fuleihan was represented by Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland. Assistant U.S. Attorney Derek Shoemake prosecuted the federal case.
In addition to SLED, the case was investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, Florence County Sheriff’s Office and the State Grand Jury.
Along with Fuleihan, the U.S. Attorney said that the following co-defendants have pleaded guilty and been sentenced to terms of probation or house arrest: Timothy Dane Keefe, 39, of Lake City; Thyrone Eaddy, 54, of Lake City; Cliff Cantey, 62, of Lake City; Kenneth Moore, 64, of Salters; George Dollard, 70, of Lake City; and Leroy Barbour 51, of Florence.
Co-defendant Sheryl Kirby, 52, of Lake City, has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing, while co-defendant Dale Smith, 64, of Lake City, has been charged but has not entered a plea in the case or otherwise been convicted, according to the release.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.