Conway City of Corruption
This is a true story of the negative impact on corruption among public officials, and how it has affected my life, my health and my well-being. It is my hope that this story inspires other victims of public corruption. I believe that we can stomp out public corruption, if we stand up for whats right and show no fear. Thanks for reading my story.
After a series of financial setbacks, I decided to relocate to Conway, South Carolina. The only time I had ever been in South Carolina was for Marine Corps boot camp. But I like the south, the weather, and for the most part the people are very friendly. I am a 2008 graduate from the police academy at Lackawanna College in Hazleton, PA and was looking into employment with the Conway Police Department but apparently I had just missed a hiring deadline. They only take applications when they are actually hiring. [continued below]....
I researched many different areas, and Conway seemed to fit me. So I took to Craigslist and found a place at 3449 Kates Bay Highway. It was a small house for rent, $400 a month. I called the property owner Elaine D. Huggins of Conway and she agreed to let me mail her the deposit to hold the place. I promptly sent her the money and headed down as soon as I could. The area is deceiving. At first, it seems beautiful. A nice river walk on the Waccamaw river, mild winter, pretty trees and wildlife. But a closer look reveals a much more grim place. A drive a mile down the street shows scores of drug dealers - pacing back and forth, day and night, while staring you down - hoping that youll buy something from them. They make it so obvious too. They might as well just put up a sign Crack for sale here.
This wasnt the picture that Elaine Huggins had painted for me over the phone. She described a very safe, very quiet area with no problems. She also made it a point to tell me about Tommy and that his wife had committed suicide. She also told me that Tommy has cancer. Elaine said Tommy would give you the shirt off his back. Little did I know, what she really meant to say was Tommy would steal the shirt off your back. In this first phone conversation, she put Tommy on the phone. I only know him as Tommy he was my neighbor. Hes a convicted felon with a lazy eye and a Harley. But he tried very hard to convince me to rent the place. He was telling me about all the fishing lakes and places to visit. Both Elaine and Tommy sounded nice, and so did the description of Conway, so I was sold. I headed down to start a new life in Conway South Carolina.
I got there at 5 in the morning. I was greeted by a lazy eyed, rifle welding man. I told him who I was. He offered to pick the lock on the door to get me in since Elaine had not given him the key. He said Ive picked that lock before followed by a creepy laugh. He opened the door right in front of me. Although the place was in very poor condition, I was happy to be there. There was a mattress that reeked of urine in the bedroom, and empty grocery containers and garbage throughout the house. But no big deal, I was just happy to have a place near Myrtle Beach. I made the best of it, cleaned it up. I even fixed the stove that she had bought used. The walls had severe water damage, but as long as I didnt get wet when it rained, what did I care?
Remember that grim side of Conway I was telling you about? Well thats part of the problem. The area is crawling with crime. And its very difficult to find jobs. I even applied to MDT a temp agency. I am a military veteran, but that company seems to give preference to criminals. I guess you can say they give prison veteran preference.
I posted ads as well to help jump start a business that I was trying to establish. I couldnt afford advertising, but was resourceful and took advantage of free exposure. But the area was economically dead - nothing going on. Myrtle Beach makes money during tourist season, and then goes dormant for the rest of the year.
I didnt expect it to be so difficult to find work, and I was quickly running out of cash. To cut corners, I turned off my hot water heater and unplugged all appliances. I had a few candles so I used them instead of lights to cut the electric bill. By the beginning of February, I was really low on cash and still no call back from any employers. I gave Elaine everything I had - $300. I didnt pay my phone bill, rent came first. She gave me a receipt. I still owed a balance of $100 for February. The situation got worse for me, with no customers and no employers getting back to me, I knew this was bad. But what happened next evades all logic.
On February 22, 2012, Elaine Huggins filed to have me evicted. A local sheriff Perry Richardson posted the notice on my door to contact the court house, so I did. They scheduled a court date for March 7th a week away. So March 7th rolls around, and we dont need a calculator to realize that Im 2 weeks late on my rent by now. I owe for March and I owe the $100 balance from February. But when we go to court, Elaine gave the judge Bradley Meiers an entirely different story. From the second we got into the court house I knew that the judge had already made up his mind that Elaine was going to win. Meiers asked Elaine how much I owed. Elaine, with a stupid look on her face ruffles some papers around and says well the $500 plus $25 a day which comes out to $600 in late fees.
She deceived the court by inferring that I had not paid her anything in February! So, according to Elaine, I was 5 weeks late on my rent. In reality, I was 2 weeks late. And I have the receipt to prove it. Elaine then went on to state that I didnt call her. I reminded her that when I paid her, I told her to email me because my phone would be off. I gave her my email address. She holds up a scribbled piece of hand written paper that she claimed proves that she tried to email me. She says I tried to email you.
I type your email into the computer and pressed enter, and nothing happened. Now, Elaine Huggins may be stupid but do you expect me to believe that she actually tried to go to my email address? You dont visit an email address, you send an email to that address. This is 2012, and everybody knows that. She had a nervous stupid look on her face when she said this too because what she was saying was so unbelievable and she knew it. She tried to go to my email address and nothing happened? Really?
She lied in court about how late I was in order to expedite the eviction. I told this to the judge, but he wouldnt listen. He told me I had to be out by Monday morning at 9 am. That gave me just 2 business days to find a new place to live. I told Meiers that I would be homeless and living in my car. He smirked, chuckled and grinned. He seemed to get pleasure out of watching me digest this horrible news. He is a narcissistic creep with no ethics and he does not belong on the bench. He knew that Elaine was lying and let her get away with it.
I almost immediately started to suspect that Elaine knew this judge. Why else would the judge throw objectivity and professionalism out the window? He was suspiciously favoring her. I smelled corruption. So I dug. And I dug. And I am still digging but so far, I found out that Elaine Huggins is related to Melanie Huggins the Clerk of Courts in Conway! AND Elaine works for the Assessors office for Conway! It was only a matter of time before I made these connections, and I will continue to connect these dots until I have the entire picture. I decided to stir things up a bit by sending an email to Melanie warning her that covering up for Elaine was not worth prison time for corruption. Hopefully when the appropriate authorities investigate, they will find what I think they are going to find. By the way if there are any other victims out there, I want to know.
Now Tommy often pretended to be friendly and outgoing. I told him how court went. Tommy told me Dont worry pal Jesus loves you you just have to believe in him. Believe in the Lord. He told me to go to CAPS an organization that might be able to help me find housing. He insisted that I go there right away. So I did. CAPS offered to pay $300 of my back rent. They called Elaine and left a message, but she never called them back.
Time was running out. On March 9th, Sheriff Perry Richardson erroneously came by to evict me. He misread the order and thought I was to be out on the 9th. I was not happy with this and cursed him out quite a bit, but he seemed like he wanted to help me so after that we had a long conversation. He told me that he grew up in this area and worked many hard jobs in his life, and that he could retire but he needs to continue working to help pay for his sons college. He really tried to give me ideas and starting points.
He told me that he would be back on March 12 at 9 am to evict me because he had to.
That night, I called Elaine. Remember this is Friday March 9th now. Two days after the ruling and the last business day that I had to get this resolved. Here is a transcript of that conversation.
Rob : Before I go to the media with this story, you might want to consider working with me
Elaine Calm down, just breathe, relax
Rob: Relax? Im going to be living in my car in a couple of days
Elaine: No youre not. Someone is going to come talk to you tomorrow
Rob: The judge already signed the order. I have to go
Elaine: Unless I work with you. Do you want me to help you or not?
Elaine was somewhat cryptic in this conversation, but it did sound like she was finally willling to negotiate.
But March 10th came and went and no one ever showed up to talk to me.
By the evening of Sunday March 11th, I was sick with aggravation over this. I had a few hours until I was homeless. I called Sheriff Perry Richardson who quickly answered his phone as usual. I told him what Elaine said over the phone on March 9th. He told me to tell her to call him. I then left a message on Elaines answering machine telling her that she had until 9 am to do the right thing here, and I left Perrys number. Monday morning came, I was up early and had the car packed with ALL of my possessions.
I was ready to go live in a storage unit (I am living in one right now). 9 am came and went, Sheriff Perry Richardson didnt show up. 10 am, 11 am, 12 pm nothing. I then called Richardson. This time, no answer so I left a message. I asked him to please call me back to confirm that Elaine had agreed to cancel or delay the eviction. I knew that CAPS was trying very hard to get in touch with her. Richardson never called me back, and no one ever came to evict me. So I stayed put. I thought that Elaine had come to her senses.
Lets back track for a minute. Monday Im waiting to be evicted. 9 am I knock on Tommys door. Tommy had stolen my bbq grill. He repeatedly asked me all week If youre moving do you want the grill? so I knew he stole it. I didnt even ask him if he stole it I just said I dont mind that you took the grill but Im going to need you to pay me for it. I just paid $40 for the tank and $80 for the grill. He said Sure I have to return something to Rite Aid and then I will pay you. Here take this in the mean time. He hands me $15 and takes off on his bike. He never gave me the money for the grill. But the reason why I wanted to mention this is because at 9 am when I asked him to pay me for the grill, I told him that I was getting evicted at 9 am. He replied I thought it was 3 pm. The funny thing is I never told him a time that I was getting evicted. He mentioned 3 pm, at least twice. It was very bizarre. It was like he had something planned for 3 pm.
Thinking that I had a second chance to make things right with Elaine, I went job hunting. I picked up dozens of applications, which I will save as evidence. I went back to CAPS who tried again to contact Elaine. I went to the VA office to find out about VA housing programs. I got back around 3:30 pm. I put my key in the door and unlocked it. The place was turned upside down. The cabinets were all open. Laptops that I was working on were stolen. And my Yamaha P95 digital piano my most valuable possession was gone. I realized then that I had been the victim of a burglary. I had not yet suspected Tommy of any wrongdoing.
I ran over to his house and banged on the door. I said Call the cops I was just burglarized. With a sly look on his face and an eerie calmness to his voice, he said Let me call Miss Elaine first. He stepped inside and closed his door. I went to ask a neighbor if they saw anything, and he said no. I then went back to Tommys and asked if he called the cops. He replied Elaine said to call the cops on you because youre not supposed to be here. So Elaine scammed me. She made me think that she was going to work with me, just so that I wouldnt remove my possessions. Tommy could then take them and essentially get away with it unscathed because it was after the 12th.
Frantic and angry, I grabbed the few possessions that Tommy didnt steal, threw them in the car and headed south. On the way I called 911, and said Not like you care anyway, but someone broke in and burglarized me at 3449 Kates Bay Highway. But I wont be there so show up if you want but I dont care..
At this point, I still did not suspect Tommy, simply because I was too upset to be able to think straight. But on my way south to Florida, I made a stop to call Elaine. She hung up on me right away. I called back. And guess who answered her phone? Tommy! Now, Elaine lives at 1601 Ivy Glen Drive in Conway and Tommy lives at 3449 Kates Bay Highway. About 10 minutes apart. So why was Tommy answering her phone? I then asked Tommy Did you steal my piano. He said, very sarcastically Absolutely not. Im in here fumigating the place you were living in (I never had any bugs by the way). Dont ever call this ladys phone again if you come here youll be arrested for trespassing. I said I dont need legal advice from a convicted felon. He kept running his mouth so I hung up on him. He was very defensive I could tell he had something to hide. I knew for sure that he stole the piano. This preaching hypocrite couldnt wait to steal from me the first chance he got.
Several calls to Sheriff Perry Richardson yielded no results. He wouldnt return my calls. This was very suspicious. Only after he spoke with Elaine Huggins on Sunday night did his behavior change. She said something that intimidated him. But what could she have possibly said to Richardson?
I called the Sheriff, Conway Police, I even emailed the Mayors office. No one would give me the time of day. Finally, on the 15th, a corporal from the Sheriffs department called me back. I mentioned that my piano was stolen. He claimed that he saw it on the grass when he came to serve the eviction. A friend of mine quickly drove out there to retrieve the piano, but it was gone. Either the Sheriff was covering up for Tommy, or Tommy put it out there just long enough for the Sheriff to see it so that he couldnt be charged with theft. I also mentioned the theft of my grill to the Sheriff, but he was quick to play it down. He said We dont have any evidence. I was able to describe the grill to a T even the damage to it that only the owner would know. Still, this corporal wanted nothing to do with it. I started to suspect that there was something about Elaine or Tommy that scared everyone in Conway - like these two were untouchable for some reason. And I was determined to get to the bottom of it.
So after doing some preliminary digging, I found out that Elaines relative Melanie Huggins is the Clerk of Courts in Conway. And Elaine is with the Assessors office for Conway. Both have ties to local government. No wonder why the judge was so quick to ignore the facts and side with Elaine! The locals call this the good ole boys club. I call it public corruption.
I have all of my documentation to prove that Elaine knowingly and willfully abused the legal system for personal gain. I am suffering greatly because of her crime. I am living in a storage unit. I have to get here late at night and leave early before the owners get here because if they suspect Im living here, I wont even have this and I will be sleeping on a park bench or a drug infested shelter. When this is all over, I do plan to sue the City of Conway. I found a job here in Florida in less than 48 hours, and will recover slowly but surely.
I will find an attorney with a back bone who isnt afraid to stand up to public corruption, and I will win. Nations have rotted from the inside out from public corruption. Its effects on victims are severe and long lasting. But I am relentless, and these creeps will be brought to justice, and I will re-build my life. In the Marine Corps we were taught to fear no one. Marines have the courage and the will to withstand a hurricane of adversity.
I am officially shutting down the good ole boys club.