Compass owner could have bond hearing this morning
by Staff Reports | February 28, 2017 7:02 am
The owner of a popular restaurant outside of Turbeville that went up in flames last summer and charged Monday with setting fire to that long-running establishment is awaiting bond at a Sumter jail.
The Compass Restaurant co-owner Ronald Clifton “Cliff” Cantey will likely go before a Sumter County magistrate Tuesday morning to have bond assessed. He is charged with second-degree arson, making a false insurance claim and burning personal property to defraud an insurer.
A warrant filed by the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office alleges that Cantey set fire July 26, 2016, to his business at 7885 Myrtle Beach Highway in Sumter County. Firefighters from both Sumter and Clarendon counties responded about 10:45 p.m. that day to the blaze, which lasted until about 4:30 a.m. July 27, 2016, and stopped traffic in both directions on U.S. 378.
Built in 1975, the restaurant was sold to Cantey about six years ago by the Green family. Ty Alan Green, a former member of Turbeville Town Council who now lives in Durham, North Carolina, ran the business for the last 15 years his family owned it. He said he had “no comment” as to Cantey’s charges, but said last summer that the fire itself was “heartbreaking.”
“It almost feels like a family member has passed,” Green said. “It was a tough thing to watch. I watched both social media and saw pictures from (The Manning Times). That gave me a chance to keep up with what was going on.”
Green spent much of his life at the restuarant until the sale to Cantey in 2011. He said his grandfather, Herbert Green, started in the seafood business in the 1950s in Baltimore, Maryland, and wanted a restaurant closer to Myrtle Beach, his home.
“My grandfather found that building at I-95, and it was kind of like a Stuckey’s,” Green said. “It was like one of those places that sells knick-knacks and candles. My family loved the building because of its rustic feel. It was kind of like an old barn.”
Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said in a release Monday that Cantey’s arrest was the result of a joint investigation between his department and the State Law Enforcement Division.
“(This) resulted in evidence that places Cantey at the scene of the fire within minutes of a call to 911,” said Dennis.
The release notes that Cantey received about $700,000 in “fraudulent insurance claims on or about Sept. 14, 2016, and Oct. 3, 2016.”
Cantey told The Manning Times the day after the fire that he was resting from surgery “on his face and hands for skin cancer” on the night of the fire. He was two weeks away from celebrating five years of ownership of the restuarant.
Dennis said Monday that Cantey’s arrest was “without incident.”
“This is a prime example of local and state authorities working together to bring the case to a close,” he said. “This was nothing short of excellent investigative work by both agencies.”