Originally created 10/22/06

Across South Carolina



Company of Sanford's brother hits hard times

COLUMBIA - Gov. Mark Sanford's youngest brother has risked his share of Sanford family land in Beaufort County on a company that makes novelty items such as insulated foam holders that keep soft drinks chilled.

He also has left shareholders out in the cold, failing to file financial reports the Securities and Exchange Commission requires since 2004.

The company, Wilson Brothers USA Inc. out of Kaufman, Texas, has struggled to pay loans backed by John Sanford's share of his family land as he has tried to salvage the company and expand it into new ventures, including temporary staffing and Internet-based building supply sales.

John Sanford owns 52 percent of Wilson Brothers. Earlier this month, Mark Sanford mentioned his brother's success in business at a meeting of the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Augusta.

Mount Pleasant real estate value grows

CHARLESTON - Think housing prices are steep in East Cooper?

Mount Pleasant Towne Centre was sold this month for more than $134.3 million.

Experts said the dollar value of the deal, easily more than double what the previous owner paid in 2002, validates Towne Centre's success as a regional shopping destination.

It also is the most telling sign yet that deep-pocketed international investors who would have snubbed Charleston 15 or 20 years ago are now sinking some serious cash into the local real estate market.

The bullish buyer in this case is IMI Mount Pleasant, a division of Illinois-based Miller Capital Advisory Inc, property records show. It paid $134.3 million. The seller, New York-based DRA Advisors Inc., bought the property for $55.3 million about four years ago.

18th conviction gets man life in prison

YORK - A York County man has been sentenced to life in prison after his 18th conviction on burglary charges.

Freddie Richard Jones, 36, was sentenced this week under the state's three-strikes law, which allows the court to put habitual offenders in jail for life.

In the 18th case, Mr. Jones stole beer, cigarettes and lottery tickets from a grocery store. He was convicted of second-degree burglary, grand larceny and lottery fraud.

Judge Ralph Cothran sentenced him to life in prison without parole.

Prosecutor E.B. Springs said Mr. Jones actually had 15 strikes. That means that 15 of his convictions were for nighttime burglaries that are among the most serious crimes that count as strikes.

Mr. Jones' attorneys said the sentence did not fit the crime.