News In Brief - December 15, 2007

GOP primary registration deadline approaching

The last day for South Carolina Republicans to register for the state's Jan. 19 presidential primary is Wednesday.

The deadline for Democratic voters is Dec. 26. For information on how to register, contact the York County elections office at 684-1242.

A bevy of Republican hopefuls are competing in the primary, with recent polls showing a close race between Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. Each candidate has visited York County at least once since the campaign season began.

Statehouse rally plays out as biblical story

COLUMBIA -- They paraded around the Statehouse seven times, hoping the walls of justice would crumble, harking back to the biblical story of how the Israelites marched around the fortress city of Jericho for seven days before its walls came down.

Nearly 100 supporters joined the principals of 3 Hebrew Boys -- the ministry and investment plan under federal and state investigation -- at a rally outside the Statehouse on Friday.

While no walls shuddered nor did the earth cleave open, the rally did accomplish its stated goal of getting passersby to look at the various signs proclaiming the 3 Hebrew Boys innocent, as occasional shouts of "What do you want? Justice!" echoed.

"We want this brought to the public," said Yahoshaphat Bayn Yisrael, a supporter who helped organize the rally.

The investment plans run by the 3 Hebrew Boys have come under government scrutiny, which Yisrael said is unjustified.

Yisrael called the 3 Hebrew Boys "a program to help people satisfy their debt, and the constituents are satisfied."

The 3 Hebrew Boys and its investment subsidiary Capital Consortium Group were started to educate people on financial strategies, said founder Joseph Brunson last month. The ministry's financial work, and investing, is exempt from securities laws because it is a church, he said at the time.

State and federal investigators say these investment plans from Brunson and his partners, Tim McQueen and Tony Pough, never worked as promised.

Prospective investors attending Capital Consortium events were told their money would be invested in foreign currency.

The firm collected $79 million in 23 states, but according to federal investigators, a small portion less than $20,000 was ever invested in foreign currency.

-- The (Columbia) State

34 video poker machines, $400,000 seized in raid

CHARLESTON -- Authorities say an 81-year-old restaurant owner and two of his employees have been arrested after police seized 34 video poker machines and $400,000 during a morning raid.

Charleston County deputies raided Pappy's in Hanahan on Thursday after a four-month investigation. They say it's the third time they have found illegal gambling machines in the restaurant.

Authorities say owner Joe Williamson and two workers -- 63-year-old June Polos and 72-year-old Patrick Henry Roberts -- were charged with gambling.

South Carolina banned video gambling seven years ago, but the machines continue to turn up.

Since January, the State Law Enforcement Division has seized nearly 1,100 gambling machines.

Man dies after being bitten by fire ants

SPARTANBURG -- Authorities say a 45-year-old Spartanburg man has died after being stung by fire ants.

Bradford McChyne Cogdell was driving a backhoe to help move rocks off a friend's property when he was bitten by fire ants just before 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Coroner's investigator J. Dwayne Corn says the man went into shock and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 5:52 p.m.

Cogdell's family says he was a general contractor who often did work at the friend's property. Susan Cogdell says her husband had been bitten by ants before without a negative reaction.