XXX in neon

Platinum Plus strip club suffered significant damage in a fire. Per The State, the fire happened at about 5:30 a.m. Jan. 16 at the club, which is near Greystone Boulevard. The club wasn’t open at the time. The paper reported that “an off-duty training captain saw a glow coming from the club’s roof as he was driving on I-126. ... The training captain investigated and reported the fire.” Fire department Capt. Brick Lewis said of the heavily damaged building, “I don’t see them reopening, not with that structure.” — Chris Trainor

Pinson Seeks Lighter Sentence, Cites Benjamin’s Innocence as a Reason Why

Disgraced former South Carolina State University board member Jonathan Pinson is set to be sentenced later this week in connection with kickback schemes and, according to The State, is citing Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin’s innocence in the matter as a reason why he should have a lighter sentence. Pinson was found guilty in 2014 and initially sentenced to five years in prison. However, he appealed that sentence and a federal judge was ordered to issue a new sentence, one that is set to be issued Thursday in Charleston. In the 2014 trial, it was implied, but never directly stated, that Benjamin was involved in one of Pinson’s kickback schemes at the Village at Rivers Edge in North Columbia. “There is no evidence to support a finding ... that Steve Benjamin or Tony Lawton were participants in criminal conduct involving the Village at Rivers Edge,” Pinson attorney Jim Griffin recently wrote in a court filing. “I’ve always maintained that I’ve done nothing wrong. Time and the facts have borne that truth out,” Benjamin told The State on Monday. “All I can do is to keep prayed up and keep working for the people.” — Chris Trainor

Rate Cut Unlikely to Bankrupt SCE&G

A Jan. 19 report by the Office of Regulatory Staff, the state’s utility regulator, said that SCE&G would likely not go into bankruptcy if it were to stop charging customers for two failed nuclear reactors. Currently customers pay $37 million a month towards the reactors. Rick Mendoza, a Columbia bankruptcy attorney who worked on the report, said that SCE&G could make up the money through a dividend cut from its shareholders and that the company has a 35 percent chance of bankruptcy. Lawmakers are considering repealing a 2007 law that allows SCE&G to charge its customers for the nuclear reactors. Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said the report was “yet another reason to question the credibility of SCANA, and now to some extent Dominion, for using this bankruptcy scare tactic to sell the deal.” — David Travis Bland

Fight Breaks Out Onstage at Columbia Comedy Club

On Jan. 21 a fight broke out on stage at the Comedy House on Decker Boulevard between an audience member and comedian Steve Brown. At one point the audience member took up a microphone stand and swung it at Brown’s body, sending the base of the stand flying into the crowd. He also threw a stool at Brown. According to an Instagram post from Brown, it appears that he went to Lexington Medical Center for treatment of a laceration on his arm. What incited the fisticuffs is unclear. Free Times has reached out to Brown and the Comedy House for comment on the incident. Neither has responded. More information and video of the incident can be found here. — David Travis Bland

Noble Mad Smith Chosen to Give State of State Response

Charleston activist and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phil Noble was displeased that state Rep. James Smith, also a gubernatorial candidate, was chosen to give the Democratic response to Republican Gov. Henry McMaster’s upcoming State of the State address. Noble says House legislators are trying to boost Smith’s candidacy by giving him the opportunity to deliver the response. “These types of insider relationships are precisely why South Carolinians are so angry at state government,” Noble said. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford says Noble is overstating the importance of the response. “This level of prestige that Phil has given to it, I don’t think most people think of it that way,” Rutherford says. — Chris Trainor

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