Convicted felon has financial ties to SC politicians - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Convicted felon has financial ties to SC politicians

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By Kara Gormley - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A felon who served time for defrauding a South Carolina bank of nearly $3 million has been busted again by the FBI.

Weldon Waites is facing charges including wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and insurance fraud.

In the early 90's, Weldon waits served 8 months for the bank fraud case.

The $3 million was used for a Corvette for his daughter, Rolex watches, and a condominium according to court records.

Since then, Waites has donated money to the campaigns of South Carolina Congressmen Joe Wilson and John Spratt.

He's even shown up on state Senator Jake Knotts' legislative profile. Knotts posted that he was security director of corporate development for a company run by Waites and his wife: a security firm called StarTech.

A couple of years after Knotts started working with StarTech, Weldon Waites' role in the company became the subject of a congressional hearing.

A former StarTech CEO testified before the House of Representatives that Waites, a majority stock holder in a company with an annual revenue of $27 million, wasn't covering payroll, but was managing to pay his personal expenses.

Expenses that she said included a check to a company called Kawliga for Gamecock Pavilion lots B-3 and B-4 -- prime tailgating spaces outside of Williams-Brice Stadium.

According to the articles of corporation filed with the Secretary of State's office, Kawliga LLC's officers are listed as Senator Jake Knotts and his wife, Betty.

Those spaces are worth $32,000 dollars according to the Richland County Assessor's Office.

We wanted to ask Knotts about his job at starttech and his relationship with Waites, but the senator didn't return calls.

But well-known South Carolina political consultant Rod Shealy called on Knotts' behalf.

Shealy said that Sen. Knotts "got offered a job and took it." He said it's "one of many similar positions that Knotts has held since retiring as a police officer."

Shealy added that he "assumed Knotts got paid," but didn't know his salary.

So far, no charges have been filed against Waites in the StarTech case.

The current indictment states that Waites devised a scheme to defraud Transamerica Life Insurance Company from March 2003 through January 2005 -- around the time Waites and his wife bought into and ran StarTech.

Congressman Wilson's office declined comment regarding Waites' case.

Congressman Spratt's office issued this statement: "Waites made a $250 contribution to my campaign four years ago in connection with a Columbia fundraiser. I do not recall meeting him, and my records do not indicate any further contributions."

Waites is out on bond, but a local attorney issued a statement reminding people that Waites is innocent until proven otherwise regarding his political contributions or affiliations.

The statement says Waites has many friends political and otherwise in South Carolina and his contributions to political candidates are fully documented and legal.

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