Attorney: Former Myrtle Beach police officer pleads not guilty on federal racketeering, money laundering conspiracy charges

Published: Mar. 20, 2015 at 12:33 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2015 at 8:02 PM EDT
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David Gaither. Source: Myrtle Beach Police Department
David Gaither. Source: Myrtle Beach Police Department

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Five of seven attorneys for the seven people arrested by the FBI on racketeering, money-laundering and drug trafficking-related charges, were present for a hearing in a California courtroom Monday morning, according to defense attorney Jonny McCoy.

Of the seven men arrested, a former Myrtle Beach Police officer, David Gaither pleaded not guilty and was released on a $500,000 bond, said defense attorney Jonny McCoy.

On Thursday, March 19, Vladimir Handl was arrested in the Florence area; Michael Rose was arrested in the Myrtle Beach area; Peter Scalise was arrested in the Myrtle Beach area; David Gaither was arrested in the Florence area; Richard Leyland was arrested in the Fort Washington, PA area; Edwin Hetherton was arrested in the Sacramento, CA area; and Paul Fink was arrested in the Chico, CA area.

Gaither is a former Myrtle Beach Police officer whose employment was discontinued in 2009 during an investigation into an incident at The Boathouse in which an Horry County Police officer was allegedly intoxicated and "shaking his penis in front of a crowd of people."

According to an indictment, Handl and Rose were businessmen in Myrtle Beach. The businesses included restaurants, nightclubs, and strip clubs in several states."Handl and Rose operated and controlled separate businesses. Rose operated several strip clubs in South Carolina, Delaware and New Hampshire under the name 'The Gold Club.' He also licensed the use of the name 'The Gold Club' to franchisees throughout the U.S.," according to FBI officials.

According to the indictment, Handl and Rose, along with their associates, Peter Scalise and David Gaither, conspired to conduct the affairs of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering involving money laundering, bank fraud and drug trafficking.

On Monday, Gaither's attorneys, Alex Hyman and Jonny McCoy, said:

"David Gaither, who is being represented for racketeering conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy charges by Alex Hyman of the Hyman Law Group and Jonny McCoy entered a plea of not guilty.

The other 4 defendants Handl, Scalise, Rose, and Fink all plead not guilty as well. The next court appearance will be held May 14 in San Francisco in front of Federal Magistrate Judge Corley.

In the meantime, all bond conditions previously set by the Federal Magistrate in Florence, SC remain in place and all 5 remain out on a $500,000.00 unsecured bond this morning."

On Friday, Rose's attorney, Solomon L. Wisenberg, released the following statement:

"Mike Rose is going to be pleading not guilty on all charges. We'll do our talking in court. It is significant that Mike, who has no criminal record, was released on his promise to appear. This shows his strong ties to this community."

Also on Friday, Gaither's attorneys, released this statement:

"The allegations made by the Government against Mr. Gaither have come as a shock and are staunchly denied and will be vigorously contested. Mr. Gaither is a peaceful family man with no record, strong community ties and maintains his innocence."

Between 2011 through 2015, the defendants knowingly accepted more than $2.3 million that they believed either had been fraudulently diverted from a bankruptcy court proceeding or constituted proceeds from drug trafficking, and then laundered the money through the businesses, including Rose's Gold Clubs, according to the FBI.

The defendants also sought to acquire cocaine to sell, the release states.

Handl and Fink are also charged with conspiring to possess cocaine with intent to distribute, according to the release.

The individual defendants face a maximum 20-year term of imprisonment for each racketeering-related count and each money laundering-related count. In addition, each defendant faces a maximum 10-year term of imprisonment for each theft of United States property count, and a maximum 20-year term of imprisonment for the conspiracy to possess cocaine with intent to distribute.

Handl could face 2,440 years' imprisonment; Rose could face 2,160 years' imprisonment; Scalise could face 2,420 years' imprisonment; Gaither could face 40 years' imprisonment; Leyland could face 110 years' imprisonment; Hetherton could face 90 years' imprisonment; and Fink could face 20 years' imprisonment."

In addition to prison, if convicted, the corporate defendant PML Clubs, Inc., could face a maximum fine of $250,000 for each of the two racketeering-related counts, and $500,000 for each count of the 106 money laundering-related counts.

WMBF News reached out to some of the other defendants who either didn't wish to speak or were unavailable for comment.

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