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Courts: Suit over proposed Lowe’s site heads to jury

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Owners of property on Highway 17 at the South Causeway that was considered for a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center have been granted a jury trial in Circuit Court for a foreclosure case.

First South Bank is seeking payment of $5 million from South Causeway LLC, owned by Peggy Wheeler-Cribb. Judge Larry Hyman set the case for Sept. 17 before Judge Steven John.

Wheeler-Cribb filed as a candidate for the District 6 seat on the Georgetown County School Board last week.

“Let’s get this case over with,” Hyman told attorneys in court last week. “That’s what we need to do.”

The property has been languishing in foreclosure for years, according to First South Bank’s attorney, Lee Floyd.

He argued that the bank had uncovered “false statements and evidence of dishonesty,” but was being denied access to some financial records that would shed light on the case. The judge granted Floyd and First South access to five years of Wheeler-Cribb’s tax returns and 10 years of financial and HUD 1 statements being held by three law firms that are also suing her and her son, Darwin Wheeler. “Looking at the personal financial records,” Floyd said, “there are serious issues of credibility and fraud.”

Audra Byrd, attorney for Wheeler-Cribb, disputed the accusations. “To suggest they found fraud misrepresents the facts,” she told the judge. “There is no evidence that the CPA said, ‘This is wrong.’ He said that he would like to look at more of this.”

Floyd said Wheeler-Cribb was holding the property in her name in order to protect her son. Both were in court last week.

Joel Collins, another of First South Bank’s lawyers, said there could be potential criminal activity involved. “The documents give information that suggests they are not telling the truth,” Collins said.

Johns had previously ruled that South Causeway LLC was entitled to a jury trial because a waiver was not included in modifications made in paperwork.

“It is contrary to law for me to rule against a jury trial,” Hyman said. “I don’t think I have the authority to contradict Judge Johns.”

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