GRAPEVINE: Trustee seeks $5M from Harris, associates

Darius Rucker

A court-appointed trustee hopes to collect more than $5 million from John K. Harris and several associates in order to repay creditors of bankrupt tax-debt-resolution firm JK Harris & Co., recently filed court records show.

During the past month Myrtle Beach attorney and trustee Michelle L. Vieira was awarded a $3.5 million judgment against Harris, the former owner of the company, who has testified he now has no money.

Vieira had claimed Harris, who earned nearly $6 million during the eight years before the company was shuttered, paid himself millions while the business was insolvent and therefore should repay the funds.

Vieira also in August filed actions pursuing claims against company co-founder Bobby Mickey, and the father and brother of John K. Harris: Charles R. Harris Jr. and Charles R. Harris Sr. Together the claims seek more than $1.5 million, related to payments and loans that the complaints allege were improper.

JK Harris & Co. sought bankruptcy protection as attorneys general around the country pursued the company for restitution payments, related to settlements that mostly involved marketing claims. The Goose Creek-based company, which advertised that it could resolve its clients’ federal tax problems, shut down in January.

Charleston native and country star Darius Rucker has struck a fresh chord with one of his key business partners.

Rucker has extended a deal with the company that handles copyright issues and promotes his music to the TV and film industries, it was announced last week. Rucker’s worldwide publishing agreement was and remains with Santa Monica, Calif.-based Universal Music Publishing Group.

Specific terms were not disclosed, but the deal includes work from an album set for release next year as well as his previous projects, “Learn To Live” and “Charleston SC 1966.”

“UMPG has been a partner from the beginning ... and they are as passionate about my music as I am,” Rucker said in a statement. ”For me, that’s what’s it’s all about.”

Rucker, who is managed by McGhee Entertainment and whose albums are produced by Capitol Records Nashville, has sold more than 25 million albums as a solo artist and as a member of Hootie & the Blowfish. The Awendaw resident and the other Hootie bandmates performed Aug. 17 on Daniel Island at the 10th annual Homegrown Festival.

It’s hunting season in downtown Charleston — for paranormal activity that makes good TV.

The eighth season of Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters” reality series kicks off this week with a visit to the Holy City, the first in a block of “Southern spirits-themed episodes,” according to the cable network.

The show will center on the crew from The Atlantic Paranormal Society as they make a nocturnal visit to the historic Old City Jail on Magazine Street. That was where Lavinia Fisher spent her last few days before being executed in 1820.

Some believe Fisher was America’s first serial killer. Her ghost is said to haunt the jail.

As she was being hanged, Fisher said: “If anyone has a message for hell, give it to me — I’ll deliver it,” according to Bruce Orr, a former local homicide detective and author of “Six Miles to Charleston: The True Story of John and Lavinia Fisher,” which was published by History Press.

“If there is any person with a reason to haunt the jail, it would be Lavinia,” Orr told The Post and Courier in 2010.

The “Ghost Hunters” Charleston episode is titled “A Serial Killer’s Revenge.” It airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday.

The city of Orangeburg is in a power play with North Carolina regulators over the merger of two Tarheel State power companies.

Media outlets last week reported the South Carolina municipality plans to contest the N.C. Utilities Commission’s June 29 approval of the $32 billion mega-marriage of Duke Energy and Progress Energy. It will take its case to the N.C. Court of Appeals.

The city argues the utilities commission made a mistake when it determined that Orangeburg had no seat at the table when the Duke-Progress merger terms were being hammered out. The city was looking specifically to eliminate provisions that block its ability to buy electricity from Duke.

The issue goes back to 2009, when the commission barred the Charlotte-based utility from selling wholesale power to Orangeburg, which is well outside the Duke’s service territory.

The city eventually signed a long-term contract with Cayce-based South Carolina Electric & Gas.

The utilities commission said Orangeburg’s demand for a voice in the merger talks was a moot point since it had no deal with Duke.