The former chief financial officer of Columbia, SC-based UCI Medical Affiliates Inc. is alleged to have embezzled nearly $3 million between 2003-08.
Jerry F. Wells Jr. is said to have embezzled approximately $2.97 million from the company through a variety of measures, including: using the company’s corporate credit card to pay personal expenses; preparing false expense reports and submitting them for reimbursement; and submitting check requests for non-business expenses, including construction work on Mr. Wells’ personal residences, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission complaint filed in the United States District Court for the District of South Carolina.
Wells’ misconduct was identified during an internal investigation conducted by the publicly traded company’s Audit Committee, beginning last December, after the company’s former independent registered accounting firm reported certain suspicious transactions.
Not satisfied with playing the role of carnival barker for South Carolina farmers as a whole, the SC Department of Agriculture is apparently taking it upon itself to use tax dollars to shill for individual companies, as well.
That’s what one deduces from a June 29 press release titled “Blue and Blackberries NOW at The Happy Berry Farm,” put out by the SC Department of Agriculture on ag department letterhead on the agency’s website.
The release reads as follows:
South Carolina Department of Agriculture
Hugh Weathers, Commissioner
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 29, 2009
Blue and Blackberries NOW at The Happy Berry Farm
SIX MILE, SC – The Happy Berry Farm is now picking several varieties of blueberries and blackberries. The fig harvest is forecast for August 1 along with seedless grapes. The muscadine harvest is forecast for August 18.
The rain has been marvelous and the berries continue to get an inch a week! Perfect! The bushes look so great this year which bodes an even better crop next year.
The Happy Berry folks say to dress for the weather. Long sleeve loose fitting shirt, hat, long pants [cotton works well] and carry some water. If you are not sweating or sweating excessively, it’s time to get out of the sun. Carry your cell phone with you to the field and if you feel ill, dizzy or have a problem call 350-9345 or 637-8041 and they will help.
For more information, visit www.TheHappyBerry.com or call 864-868-2946 (house) or 864-350-9345 (cell/farm). Hours (rain or shine) are Mon-Fri: 8am – Dusk, Sat: 8am – 6pm, and Sun: Noon – Dusk.
Visit www.agriculture.sc.gov, click on Recipes in Consumer Quick Links, and look for blackberry and blueberry recipes.
A few questions come to mind after reading this release:
- Is the SC Department of Agriculture so hard up for money that it’s farming its staff out to do free-lance work to bring in extra revenue?
- Does the SC Department of Agriculture have so little to do that it can have staffers gin up releases for private businesses?
- Did the ag department folks who worked on this Happy Berry release do it on state time?
This, of course, comes on the heels of the Palmettovore fiasco, that cute little agricultural protectionism campaign created by Columbia ad firm Chernoff Newman that cost South Carolina more than $50,000, and was little more than a subsidy for state farmers.
But as difficult as the concept behind Palmettovore – using tax dollars contributed by all South Carolinians to promote the business interests of a small segment of the state’s residents - is to rationalize, the blatant favoritism involved in singling out an individual company for promotion by a state agency almost boggles the mind.
One Alan Percy of Columbia demonstrates an astounding degree of arrogance and ignorance in his July 3 letter to The State newspaper, titled “Confederate flag has been tainted by racist groups.”
Mr. Percy explains that while he initially had an affinity for the flag, he has since “grown up” and is now repulsed by the banner because it represents “crippling backwardness and virulent racism,” adding that “the great majority of people both inside and outside South Carolina” feel the same way.
Mr. Percy’s reasoning is simple: “It has been irreversibly damaged by its association with the hordes of soulless hate-mongers in the white-power crowd.”
He adds that “Incredibly, our own state Legislature distinguished itself in 1964 with the epically dim-witted decision to raise the flag atop our state capitol dome in a perverse and futile protest over federal civil rights legislation — an act that has done incalculable damage to our state’s image and economy over the years.”