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Former sheriff candidate faces video gaming charge

Posted: April 4, 2013 5:08 p.m.
Updated: April 5, 2013 5:00 a.m.

A former Kershaw County sheriff candidate and 5th Circuit Solicitor’s Office employee was arrested late last week on an outstanding warrant in Spartanburg County and charged with allegedly having illegal gambling machines in possession.

Larry Wayne "L.W." Flynn II, 37, was booked into the Spartanburg County Detention Facility last Thursday and was released on a $2,000 bond. Flynn created Magic Minutes, which offers long-distance calling cards before prompting customers to play casino-like games for a chance to win cash prizes. Since Magic Minutes’ creation in late 2010, several magistrate judges across the state have declared the machines illegal. Some judges have declared the machines legal, however.

Magistrate Donnie Willingham, of Spartanburg County, ruled the machines illegal in May 2012 after Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) confiscated two of the machines at a party shop in Spartanburg in February 2012, according to the incident report provided by SCSO. SCSO deputies arrested Flynn on a warrant granted on March 25 after Flynn testified that he is the owner and creator of Magic Minutes machines at a hearing in May 2012. SCSO’s Public Information Officer Lt. Tony Ivey said the investigation into Flynn, the Magic Minutes machine and "associated incidents" took time.

"The investigators in charge of this case presented their case to a judge for an arrest warrant when they felt the time was appropriate," he said.

SCSO "placed a hold on" and served Flynn the warrant after they learned he was in Horry County due to another case concerning the Magic Minute machines, Ivey said.

Gov. Nikki Hailey signed a bill on March 22 that further defined what constitutes a gambling machine. That law now includes machines like Magic Minutes, which claims it is "the best way to buy long distance," while offering "promotional giveaway games" according to its website.

"The simple chance of getting more for your money or "stretching that dollar" is what makes Magic Minutes the premier method of purchasing long distance," the Magic Minutes website states. "Magic Minutes legally uses games of chance under South Carolina law while providing affordable long distance to the people who need it most."

South Carolina Supreme Court banned gambling machines in 2000. New "sweepstakes" machines have popped up since then, however, and inconsistent rulings over the machines in various counties have been accounted for in the amendment of the law.

In the 2012 Kershaw County’s Sheriff’s Office found Magic Minute machine in a gas station in Elgin. Kershaw County Magistrate Judge Bill Corbett ultimately granted KCSO permission to destroy one of the machines, although Flynn and his lawyers contested the destruction of the machines. Another machine KCSO found was found to be counterfeit and was not a Magic Minutes machine. Corbett ruled that the machines were a violation of the state’s ban on video gambling machines. During the court hearing, Flynn and his lawyers said the machines were legal because the machine provides voluntarily purchased calling cards and other magistrate judges had deemed them legal. Kershaw County Chief Magistrate Roderick "Rick" Todd ruled that Magic Minutes machines were legal in 2011.

Camden Police Officer Chief Joe Floyd said he hasn’t heard of any Magic Minutes machines or anything concerning Flynn in Kershaw County since the machines were deemed illegal. Floyd said Flynn previously asked some of his staff for assistance to get the machines into Kershaw County businesses. Flynn assumed the machines were legal because they weren’t explicitly illegal until now, Floyd said.

Matthews said that there are currently no illegal gaming machines in Kershaw County and if there is, KCSO will continue to respond to complaints.

Flynn ran against current Kershaw County Sheriff Jim Matthews in the 2010 Republican primary. Flynn is a "graduate of criminal justice, business management and a 15-year law enforcement veteran," according to the Magic Minutes website. Magic Minutes’ headquarters is in Columbia.

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