HomeGold's Ronnie Sheppard Denied Parole During Re-Hearing - WSPA.com

HomeGold's Ronnie Sheppard Denied Parole During Re-Hearing

Posted:
By Robin Kanady

Updated: January 18, 2012

Former HomeGold CEO Ronnie Sheppard was denied parole at a re-hearing in Columbia Wednesday.

Sheppard's company went bankrupt in 2003.  At least 8,000 people in the Upstate lost about a quarter of a billion dollars.

About a dozen HomeGold investors from Pickens, Anderson, Greenville, Spartanburg, and Union showed up to voice their objections to Sheppard's parole.

Sheppard says he is sorry that investors lost money, but that he doesn't think it is fair that other HomeGold executives have gotten lighter sentences. He says he has served enough time behind bars.

The parole board granted Sheppard parole in December, but the parole was revoked after the SC Attorney General says he was not notified about the December hearing.

On Wednesday about a dozen people from all across the Upstate got a second chance they should have gotten the first time. A month ago many of them, including the state's top prosecutor, were not notified about Sheppard's parole hearing. The Department of Probation, Pardon, and Parole says that was a mistake. 

On Wednesday, the former investors of HomeGold didn't hold back telling the parole board how they lost their life savings to Sheppard, his investment company HomeGold, and Carolina Investors. 

Wallace Jones of Anderson says, “I had to go back to work at 83 years old. That's pretty bad for you to have to go back to work.” 

For every investor at the parole hearing Wednesday, there were thousands who were not. Senator Larry Martin of Pickens says, “I'm here representing those people that can't be heard, some of them have died, some are in nursing homes.” 

Sheppard has served almost five years of a 20 year sentence for securities fraud and other convictions. He and his family told the parole board that's long enough. Ronnie Sheppard said, “There's not a day that goes by that I don't feel for the investors.” 

Board members voted to deny Sheppard's parole, saying last month they did not hear all the facts. There was a computer glitch that did not allow for the proper notification. “7 On Your Side” wants to know what changes are being made to prevent future problems. 

Robin Kanady asked SC Attorney General Alan Wilson, “What would you say to folks who are concerned this may happen again?” Wilson responded, “We're going to do our due diligence at the attorney general's office to make sure it doesn't, and if it does, we're obviously going to look at legislative fixes.” 

The way the law is written now the “solicitor who prosecuted the prisoner” must be told about parole hearings. Senator Martin wants to file a bill to take out the word "solicitor" and replace it with "prosecuting agency," so that there's less confusion when a case involves the attorney general. As for the HomeGold case, Probation, Pardon, and Parole says it has now programmed the attorney general's office into its notification system. 

Many of you told us you did not get notification that there was a parole hearing involving Sheppard. The probation office says they sent out more than 100 letters, but since there are at least 8,000 investors, you may not be on the list. If you call the probation office, they can add you. That number is 1-888-551-4118.   

Posted: December 15, 2011

A state agency says it made a mistake that almost let a convicted crook get out of jail, without the state's top prosecutor being notified.

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson intervened to stop the release of former HomeGold executive Ronnie Sheppard from prison. The measure comes after Sheppard was granted parole because Wilson says his office was not notified by Probation, Pardon and Parole about the parole hearing.

Pete O'Boyle with the South Carolina Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole admits his agency messed up when it didn't notify the state attorney general that HomeGold executive Ronnie Sheppard was up for parole. O’Boyle says, “We realized it (the mistake) was due to a computer glitch….We notified the wrong authority in this case.”   

By law, the agency was supposed to notify the attorney general's office that Sheppard was up for parole, but instead O’Boyle says the computer system notified the solicitor's office in Lexington County, where the trial took place. However, since the Attorney General was the lead prosecutor on the case, no one was there to testify that Sheppard should not get out of jail. 

Larry Madden of Pickens invested with Carolina Investors, a subsidiary of HomeGold. Madden says, “I am angry because people weren't notified (about the parole hearing).” 

Madden, like many in the Upstate, was ripped off of their life savings by Sheppard, his company HomeGold, and the subsidiary Carolina Investors. When the company went bankrupt in 2003, at least 8,000 people lost about a quarter of a billion dollars. 

Madden says, “Everytime you ride by there (the old Carolina Investors’ office in downtown Pickens), it's like a slap in the face.”  

Madden says he's been hurt all over again with no one at the parole hearing to speak up for him. 

“7 On Your Side’s Robin Kanady asked O’Boyle, “What are you doing to keep this (the prosecutor not being notified) from happening again?” O’Boyle responded, “We are re-programming our computers.” 

Even though O’Boyle says the problem is fixed, Madden wants his chance to tell the parole board why Sheppard should not get out of jail. 

Madden says, “I am angry that they (HomeGold/Carolina Investors) hurt so many people and they put so many people in hardships.” 

O'Boyle says the agency is sorry for the mistake. Probation, Pardon, and Parole tells “7 On Your Side” a new hearing for Sheppard has been scheduled for January 18 in Columbia. This time O’Boyle says a notification will be sent out. Sheppard remains in jail.  

Sheppard has served four years of a 20-year sentence for his role in one of the state's largest bankruptcies, the $275 million collapse of HomeGold and its subsidiary, Carolina Investors in 2003.

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