NEWS13 INVESTIGATES: 2nd former Florence Co. deputy named in gambling indictment was allegedly fired twice

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FLORENCE, SC (WBTW) – A former deputy with the Florence County Sheriff’s Office (FCSO), who was named in a new indictment related to an illegal gambling operation, had a history of conduct unbecoming of an officer and was fired by the department twice, according to new records obtained by News13.

Timothy Dane Keefe is among nine people named in the indictment that was filed Tuesday, as is fired FCSO Lt. & Special Response Team supervisor Mark Fuleihan. News13 has also learned that Fuleihan used to be Keefe’s immediate supervisor at the FCSO. Fuleihan even helped Keefe get a job with another law enforcement agency after Keefe’s firing, according to a typed letter from longtime Hemingway Police Chief H. Bryan Todd.

The latest indictment indicates that Keefe, Fuleihan and Dale Smith would communicate before and after various law enforcement operations. In February, weeks after Fuleihan allegedly called Keefe about upcoming gambling enforcement operations, Keefe “allegedly removed & destroyed evidence before law enforcement arrived”.

The indictment says a total of at least about $1,249,000 was obtained, directly or indirectly, by the nine named as a result of the allegations.

On Thursday, News13 obtained the training history report, certification documents, misconduct report forms, reports from FCSO members and personnel change in status reports surrounding former Deputy Keefe.

CONDUCT UNBECOMING OF AN OFFICER

Keefe began working for the Florence County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 23, 2004.

On Aug. 24, 2009, alleged misconduct from Keefe was reported to the department. On a misconduct report form obtained by News13, Keefe was accused of “Conduct unbecoming of an officer, public drunkenness, belligerence, rowdiness and fighting”. Capt. D.L. Huggins with the FCSO wrote in a report that this was an off-duty altercation involving Deputy Keefe. The comments section on a separation supplement form indicated that Keefe “had several incidents involving conduct unbecoming of an officer”.

The following is a typed report sent from Sgt. Donnie McCain. Profane language has been redacted:

On August the 26th, 2009 I was contacted by Captain D.L. Huggins to come to his office. Capt. Huggins had Deputy Dane Keefe in his office. I was instructed by the Captain to ride with Deputy Keefe back to his residence and bring his patrol vehicle back to the office. On the way to the location, Deputy Keefe was very agitated and aggravated with the Captain. He immediately called his supervisor, Lt. Mark Fuleihan, and begins to cuss about Captain Huggins and the Sheriff’s Office. He said f*** Donny Huggins; he wasn’t going to take the three days off. He stated that if he could not go back to his team that he would quit and that he wasn’t going to bring his s*** back and that we would have to come get it. He also stated that when he saw that fat f****** Brumbles he was going to beat his a**. All the way to the location he repeatedly kept saying f*** Donny Huggins and the Sheriff’s Office and that he was tired of being treated unfairly. When we arrived at the location in Scranton and he got his stuff out of his vehicle, I got ready to leave and he said we would see him in booking because he was going to the hospital to beat somebody’s a**. I told him not to do anything foolish. Lt. Fuleihan also heard what Deputy Keefe was saying. I came back to the office and immediately reported this information to Captain Huggins.”

Sgt. Donnie McCain, FCSO (typed report from 2009)

After this was reported to Capt. Huggins, Capt. Huggins met with then-Sheriff Kenney Boone. Then-Sheriff Boone and Capt. Huggins both felt that suspension was “no longer an option”, according to a report from Capt. Huggins, and that Deputy Keefe needed to either be fired or asked to resign from the department. He then called a meeting with Deputy Keefe, Keefe’s immediate supervisor Lt. Fuleihan and Lt. Clint Caldwell of the FCSO.

Lt. Caldwell typed up this report, which includes several mentions of Fuleihan. Profane language has been redacted:

On August 28, 2009, I, Lt. Caldwell, Capt. Huggins and Lt. Fuleihan were in Capt. Huggins’s office and Deputy Dane Keefe was called to the office. Capt. Huggins began to explain to Deputy Keefe that his actions prior to this meeting were not becoming of the Sheriff’s Office conduct and was not the way a Florence County Sheriff’s Office deputy should behave in public. Deputy Keefe started to behave in an angry manner and began to get disorderly, stating to Capt. Huggins that he was not going to sign any f****** papers and he was not going to give him s*** and if he wanted his d*** gun and other items belonging to the Sheriff’s Office he could come and get the s*** himself because he was not bringing him a d*** thing. He then stood up and reached towards Lt. Fuleihan and gave him his I.D. card. Capt. Huggins asked Deputy Keefe was he going to sign his disciplinary sheet. Deputy Keefe replied again that he was not signing a f****** thing because he didn’t do anything wrong. Capt. Huggins asked Deputy Keefe to calm down. At that time, Deputy Keefe would not calm down and Capt. Huggins asked him again to calm down. Deputy Keefe would not, stating that he was f****** being treated wrong. Capt. Huggins then asked me to escort Deputy Keefe out of his office and off Sheriff’s Office property. I then told Deputy Keefe that it was time to go and the meeting was over. Deputy Keefe turned to walk out the door and said, f*** it, I’m going. As I, Lt. Caldwell was walking Deputy Keefe out the door, Deputy Keefe began to curse and stated that ****** f***** ain’t s***, that Huggins was a nasty f*****. I told Deputy Keefe to calm down and walked him to his vehicle where he gave me his Glock and a 45 caliber gun. Deputy Keefe stated he wanted to stay on property and wait for Lt. Fuleihan but I told him that he had to leave the property and I would tell Lt. Fuleihan that he wanted to see him. Deputy Keefe then got into his truck and left.

Lt. Clint Caldwell, FCSO (typed report from 2009)

Deputy Keefe was fired from the FCSO on Aug. 28, 2009. The department alleged that the firing was due to misconduct.

KEEFE DEFENDS HIS FIRING

On Sept. 22, 2009, former director of the SC Criminal Justice Academy Hubert Harrell wrote a letter to then-Sheriff Boone. He indicated that the FCSO did not specifically indicate in previous reports what Deputy Keefe did that constituted a “misconduct” firing. The letter asked Sheriff Boone to provide additional information and necessary documentation in order for the Academy to remove Keefe’s certification. There is no indication from the documents we obtained suggesting that then-Sheriff Boone sent additional documentation to the Academy about this.

News13 has not been able to get in contact with Boone. At last check, Boone was expected to undergo inpatient treatment after serving time in jail following a probation revocation from a domestic violence incident.

On Sept. 29, 2009, Keefe wrote a letter to the Academy. This was a rebuttal in response to the FCSO stating that he was terminated for misconduct. He indicates that he requested an investigation into the reason for his firing. Keefe said in the letter that Capt. Huggins had said in a previous meeting that Keefe was being demoted to patrol. Keefe said he asked for written statements or complaints related to this matter but says Capt. Huggins told him he couldn’t provide that documentation at the time. Keefe indicated in his letter that he was not fired because of conduct unbecoming of an officer, but rather because of a “personal conflict” with him and Capt. Huggins.

KEEFE RETURNS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT

On Oct. 19, 2009, Hemingway Police Chief H. Bryan Todd wrote a letter to the Academy, after Keefe applied for a position with the Hemingway Police Department. In it, he indicates that Lt. Fuleihan had very positive things to say about Keefe’s time with the FCSO.

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter is in reference to Timothy Dane Keefe which has applied for a officer position with the Hemingway Police Department, and Per our telephone conversation of October 16, 2009 I have checked Keefe’s references which included contacting Lt. Mark Fuleihan of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office.

Lt. Fuleihan stated Mr. Keefe was one of the most outstanding officers he ever had the pleasure of training. It is my understanding Mr. Keefe was not involved in any misconduct.

I’m requesting that Mr. Keefe’s certification be reviewed by the Academy, and a decision made in reference to his employment with my agency. If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Chief H. Bryan Todd, Hemingway Police Department (letter from October, 2009)
Fired FCSO Lt. Mark Fuleihan (Mugshot courtesy of Richland County Jail)

Upon obtaining that letter, News13 contacted Chief Todd on Thursday for his reaction to the news that both individuals mentioned in his letter have been named in a new indictment. Chief Todd said he was surprised to hear about the allegations.

According to Keefe’s training history report, Keefe began working for the Hemingway Police Department on Oct. 19, 2009, the same day his letter was sent to the SC Criminal Justice Academy.

On a document dated Oct. 20, 2009 and signed Oct. 21, 2009, the Academy provided training and/or certification documents to Chief Todd. The comments section indicated that the FCSO was requested to provide additional documentation about Keefe’s alleged misconduct but “has refused to do so”, according to the document. As a result, Academy Director Harrell rendered Keefe eligible for certification. This letter went on to say, “Mr. Keefe’s separation from the Florence County Sheriff’s Office will be amended to reflect that he was not terminated for misconduct”.

KEEFE’S EXIT FROM HEMINGWAY PD

Less than two months after his hiring at the Hemingway Police Department, Keefe resigned, on Dec. 10, 2009. For the first time, Chief Todd is explaining why.

11 years after Keefe’s departure from his department, Chief Todd said Thursday that it’s because Keefe did not want to participate in putting up Christmas lights prior to the holiday. Chief Todd says putting up the Christmas lights is a normal practice for his department, in a small town. Chief Todd said Thursday that Keefe didn’t work out in his department based on the way the department operates.

KEEFE’S LAST YEARS IN LAW ENFORCEMENT

According to a training history report, Keefe then worked with the Lake City Police Department from Dec. 29, 2009 to April 13, 2010. It is not clear what led to his exit from the department but we learned that on his last day with Lake City, he and several supervisors in the FCSO signed a personnel action request form confirming that Deputy Keefe would return to the FCSO on April 24.

On April 24, 2010, Keefe was re-hired by the FCSO.

The illegal gambling operation indictment filed this week says, “From on or about Jan. 2012, and continuously thereafter up to and including the date of this Indictment, the exact dates being unknown to the Grand Jury, Timothy Dane Keefe, Dale Smith, and others ran an illegal gambling business in the District of South Carolina as alleged in Count I”. This would indicate that Keefe was allegedly involved in this activity while he and Fuleihan were part of the FCSO.

On April 5, 2013, Keefe was fired once again by the FCSO, this time for “violation of agency policy”, according to a personnel change in status report from the Academy. News13 asked Major Nunn about this violation of agency policy. He provided the following typed letter from FCSO Coordinator Katherine McCain, the wife of Donnie McCain:

On Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013, a call was received by Captain Huggins by a complainant stating that he had observed a Florence County Deputy driving recklessly and carelessly on Hwy 544 in Horry County. The Complainant stated the deputy was weaving in and out of traffic and speeding. The Complainant provided Captain Huggins with the tag number on the vehicle. Captain Huggins looked up the tag number and the vehicle was assigned to Deputy Dane Keefe…

Katherine McCain, FCSO Coordinator (typed letter from April, 2013)

According to the letter, a member of the FCSO command staff had specifically told Deputy Keefe not to take his county vehicle outside the county “and he did it anyway”. The letter went on to say that Deputy Keefe had also been suspended without pay for three days in May of 2012 and was issued a written warning in May of 2011 as well. The letter stated that then-Sheriff Boone “decided the best course of action to take was to terminate Dane’s employment with the Sheriff’s Office”.

News13 will continue to stay on top of developments in this criminal investigation involving former, local law enforcement officers and others.

In April, News13 obtained Fuleihan’s law enforcement training history report. You can take a look at that by clicking here.

Fuleihan is expected in court for a hearing on Nov. 4. Count on News13 for updates.

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