3 indicted in plot to bomb Charlotte school

Three members of a Rock Hill family and a fourth man were indicted this week by a federal grand jury on charges they conspired to rob a Charlotte bank by detonating pipe bombs to create a diversion, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.

Timothy Eddington, 35, his son Steven Eddington, 18, and his nephew William Christopher Puckett, 19, along with family acquaintance Edgar Scott Williams, IV, 19, all from Rock Hill, also were charged with four counts related to the possession of pipe bombs.

Timothy Eddington also was charged as a convicted felon in possession of the components of a pipe bomb.

York County deputies found the four men sleeping in a vacant house in Fort Mill on Aug. 23. Deputies also discovered explosive devices made with powder from shotgun shells, galvanized pipe sections, PVC end caps and firecracker fuses.

The indictment alleges the men planned to detonate the pipe bombs to draw police away from the Founders Federal Credit Union in Charlotte, so that they could rob it.

If convicted on all charges, the men face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

COLUMBIA -- Hundreds of South Carolinians with HIV/AIDS who were waiting for lifesaving medicines can take their lives off hold thanks to a healthy dose of funds from the Legislature.

The AIDS Drug Assistance Program waiting list, which started mid-2006 and grew to 567 in April, has been cleared.

"We're very pleased that finally we have been able to eliminate our waiting list after more than a year," said Lynda Kettinger, director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control's STD/HIV division. "It has been a very challenging time for patients, local providers and our staff."

But the end of the waiting list does not mean the end of the need for the state's continued support. Even as the backlog clears, scores of new applicants seek help every month.

Kettinger praised lawmakers and the South Carolina HIV/AIDS Care Crisis Task Force, led by Bambi Gaddist, that pushed for money to help those on the list.

In June, the Legislature approved $3 million annually and a one-time amount of $1 million for the drug program.

Previously the state gave $500,000, the lowest contribution among all states. Last year, South Carolina had by far the longest waiting list among all states.

No more.

"It means that South Carolina has come to grips with the reality of AIDS in the state," said Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, who led HIV/AIDS funding efforts in the Legislature.

"I think the message finally got through to other legislators," said Tracy Edge, R-Horry, who also pushed for the extra money. "It was just a compelling argument that we needed to help the people if we had the funds to do so, and I'm glad we did."

People with HIV/AIDS who take medicines consistently lead healthier lives and are less likely to pass the virus on to others.

"It (was) a terrible situation for those people and their families to be in," said Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston. "Generally, what we do in the Legislature is hear from people what problems there are, then try to help solve them this is an example of when that works."

DHEC started cautiously taking patients off the waiting list in April by using federal dollars.

"(When we) heard about the state money, then we knew we could step up the pace," said Noreen O'Donnell, coordinator of the Ryan White CARE program.

Program officials are glad they can count on state money, since federal money is iffy from year to year and has been cut in recent years. Added to that are rising drug costs and growing numbers of people who need help.

Although the waiting list has been erased, up to 20 new applications a week come in.

O'Donnell's office carefully tracks client numbers and drug costs to see if another waiting list might have to be started later.

"The need is still there, and we're in a good position to fill that need, but depending on federal funding, we could be back in a waiting list position 12 months from now," she said.

The challenge, Neal said, is for the Legislature to continue to meet increasing needs for HIV prevention and care services in the state.

Some lawmakers are keeping a wait-and-see attitude about that, but others are more optimistic.

"I think it will be something that we will be able to continue doing without a lot of problem," Edge said.

For help from the AIDS Drug Assistance Program, call the South Carolina AIDS/STD hot line at (800) 322-2437 to find a service organization near you.

You also can contact the York County Health Department at (803) 909-7300.