An ex-sheriff’s lieutenant will spend over a year in prison for his role in a far-reaching illegal gambling operation in South Carolina.
Earlier this month, Chief South Carolina US District Judge R. Bryan Harwell sentenced former Florence County Sheriff’s Deputy Mark Edward Fuleihan, 49, to 12 months and one day in federal prison. He will also be placed on court-ordered supervision for three years after his release from prison.
Fuleihan could have been sentenced for up to 10 years in prison. He previously pled guilty to operating an illegal gambling business in Florence and Williamsburg counties.
Fuleihan is one of eight of the nine defendants who entered guilty pleas in the case. The pleas were the result of a lengthy state and federal inquiry into illegal gambling and corruption.
County officials contacted state and federal investigators after allegations surfaced that gambling operators were getting tipped off about law enforcement actions, as well as wider suspicions about the gambling ring.
Fuleihan was arrested last year. He was indicted for operating an illegal gambling business, conspiracy to obstruct enforcement of state criminal law, and obstruction of an official proceeding. Fuleihan has been fired from the sheriff’s department.
Authorities said he told the gambling operators about upcoming search warrants, wiretaps, and court-ordered raids. Fuleihan was able to do that by asking law enforcement officials to keep him informed about future operations related to gambling enforcement.
Fuleihan then shared the confidential information with the illegal gambling operation. He also allegedly sold seized gaming machines back to the illegal gambling operation.
Fuleihan had been a Florence County Sheriff’s deputy since 1995. The gambling ring operated since 2014.
About $1 million was deposited into the accounts of at least two members of the gambling organization. Prosecutors and law enforcement officials chastised the deputy.
A law enforcement officer’s badge and gun are not only symbols of trust and professionalism, but they are also tools that should be used for protecting the public, not enabling criminal activity,” Ronnie Martinez, the special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in North and South Carolina, said in a statement.
“Corruption in law enforcement undermines the public’s trust and makes all of our jobs harder.”
Acting South Carolina US Attorney M. Rhett DeHart added in the statement, “This team was able to dismantle a criminal organization that was bolstered by a crooked cop and to send that officer to prison.”
“When a law enforcement officer breaks the law, it tarnishes the entire profession, and we lose the respect of the communities we serve,” echoed South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) Chief Mark Keel.