HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) –A 132-count federal indictment alleges that two Myrtle Beach businessmen operated a criminal enterprise, along with several other area associates, with the express purpose of laundering money made from criminal acts for its members, and assisting its members in hindering law enforcement from identifying, apprehending and prosecuting them. The indictment also alleges that members of this enterprise possessed and distributed cocaine.
The 25-page document released to WMBF News by the U.S. District Court, North District of California on Friday provides details on the criminal ring allegedly operated by Myrtle Beach businessmen Vladimir Handl and Michael Rose. Former Myrtle Beach Police officer David Gaither and Peter Scalise are listed as associates in the enterprise. Gaither helped manage some of Rose's strip clubs, and Scalise operated a restaurant with Handl, according to the indictment.
The indictment alleges that the purposes of the "Handl Enterprise" included: obtaining profits and property for its members through the commission of criminal acts, including laundering money, promoting and enhancing the enterprise and the activities of its members and associates, and providing assistance to the enterprise members to hinder and obstruct law enforcement from identifying, apprehending, and prosecuting them.
The members and associates of the Handl Enterprise established relationships with criminals in order to cultivate clients for the enterprise's money laundering services, the indictment alleges. The members and associates created false documents, and used the assets and property of PML Clubs, Inc., owned by Rose, to support these money laundering activities. It was through this company that Rose operated "The Gold Club" franchises in Myrtle Beach and across the United States.
Members even solicited investments in the Handl Enterprise from criminals, the indictment alleges.
The indictment goes on to allege that Handl, Rose, Scalise, and Gaither engaged in a pattern of racketeering – knowingly engaging in unlawful acts, including offenses involving dealing in a controlled substance, to further the group's alleged criminal enterprise.
The document lists dozens of wire and check transfers for hundreds of thousands of dollars between 2012 and 2014, alleging that Handl, Scalise, Rose, and Rose's PML Club, Inc., unlawfully and knowingly used these transfers to conceal and disguise the source of the money, which is believed to include proceeds from the distribution of a controlled substance.
The last counts of the indictment state that two other defendants, Edwin Hetherton, and Richard Leyland, stole about $29,000 and $60,000 of undercover money of the United States, respectively.
The final count alleged that beginning in March 2014, Handl and another defendant, Paul Fink, worked together to possess and distribute cocaine.
The indictment concludes by outlining what property the defendants would have to forfeit if found guilty.
Since these men were arrested by the FBI, and the Department of Justice's allegations were brought to light, attorneys representing Rose and Gaither have told WMBF News their clients have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
In addition, the following statement was issued by Solomon L. Wisenberg and Dan McCoy, attorneys representing Rose:
Contrary to statements and implications in recent media accounts, Michael Rose has not been charged with possessing or distributing narcotics or with any federal drug trafficking crime. Mr. Rose is presumed innocent under our Constitution and has pled not guilty to all charges. He intends to mount a vigorous defense in court."
Friday, Handl's attorney, Rose Mary Parham issued the following statement:
"[Handl] pled not guilty at his arraignment in San Francisco last Monday. It is important to remember that these are only charges and Vlad is presumed innocent under the law."
WMBF News reached out to some of the other defendants who either didn't wish to speak or were unavailable for comment.