Friday, October 31, 2008

Black Mafia Family Sentencing

A federal judge has sentenced 10 of the 16 defendants indicted for their participation in the cocaine distribution activities of the “Black Mafia Family” (BMF), a violent drug gang that has been the focus of federal prosecution in Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Louisville, Orlando, and elsewhere.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said, “These sentencings help bring to a close the Justice Department’s successful dismantling of the Black Mafia Family, a coast-to-coast drug empire once so brash and powerful that it purchased freeway billboards proclaiming that the world was theirs. Their ‘world’ – one built on illegal drugs and gun violence – has crumbled, thanks to the hard work of many law enforcement agents and prosecutors. Now all that is left for the BMF criminals is prison time.”

SAC Rodney G. Benson of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “The government has successfully dismantled a violent and notorious drug trafficking organization. The Black Mafia Family wreaked havoc from coast to coast by distributing cocaine and leaving a destructive path of violence along the way without regard for public safety. Their bold image once propelled them into the media spotlight. Today they are again in the spotlight, this time for the right reason. These defendants are deserving of the sentences that were handed down today. Through the concerted efforts of our federal, state and local law enforcement counterparts, we were able to successfully investigate, prosecute and remove these violent criminals from the street.”

The defendants sentenced yesterday and today, and their terms of incarceration, are:

•DIONNE E. BEVERLY, 36, of Hurricane, West Virginia, 10 years in federal prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•LAMAR K. FIELDS, 40, of Atlanta, 5 years, 10 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•DERON HALL, 32, of St. Louis, Missouri, 7 years, 6 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•VICTOR D. HAMMONDS, 44, of Conyers, Georgia, 4 years in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•BARIMA P. McKNIGHT, 30, of Las Vegas, Nevada, 5 years, 4 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•JAMAL S. MITCHELL, 39, of East Orange, New Jersey, 5 years, 3 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•FRANKLIN D. NASH, 57, of Decatur, Georgia, 6 months to be served in a halfway house; •DERREK Q. PITTS, 34, of East Orange, New Jersey 16 years, 8 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release;

•BRYANT SHAW, 28, of Atlanta 10 years in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release; and

•DARRYL C. TAYLOR, 48, of Rex, Georgia, 7 years, 3 months in federal prison to be followed by 5 years of supervised release.

According to Nahmias, court records, and other publicly-available information: The defendants were members or associates of the Black Mafia Family, a nationwide gang that distributed thousands of kilograms of cocaine during 2002-2005. Federal authorities first struck a blow against the BMF in October 2005 with multi-defendant cocaine conspiracy indictments returned in Detroit, Louisville, and Orlando. Dozens of other defendants were subsequently arrested as a result of related BMF investigations in Los Angeles, St. Louis, and Greenville, South Carolina. In the Atlanta case, 16 defendants were indicted in July 2007. The lone Atlanta defendant who went to trial, FLEMING DANIELS, 36, of Roswell, Georgia, was convicted and is scheduled to be sentenced next month. One defendant in the case, VERNON M. COLEMAN a/k/a “Woo,” 32, of the Atlanta area, remains a fugitive.

At its peak during 2003-2004, the BMF was moving hundreds of kilograms of cocaine into Atlanta, Detroit, and other distribution hubs every month. The drugs would arrive in vehicles – often limousines – with secret compartments or “traps.” These same trap vehicles would then be filled with cash (the proceeds from drug sales) to be sent back to the Mexican sources of supply.

Along with these massive amounts of cocaine, the BMF brought violence to the streets of Atlanta. In one incident, Rashannibal Drummond, 23, was beaten, shot and killed in the parking lot of the Midtown club Velvet Room during the early morning hours of July 25, 2004. The murder was the culmination of a one-sided brawl that was alleged to have been precipitated when the unarmed Drummond slapped one of the BMF's prized luxury vehicles to alert its driver not to back over him. Defendant FLEMING DANIELS has been indicted in Fulton County for that murder.

DEMETRIUS FLENORY and much of the BMF fled Atlanta in late November 2004 after an expensive BMF drug stash house in northwest Atlanta was raided by Atlanta Police and DEA agents. Although no arrests occurred at the unoccupied house, officers discovered three firearms, fictitious identifications, BMF paraphernalia, and marijuana. They also confiscated two vehicles, including a 2003 Hummer H2 stretch limousine that was suspected to have been used by the BMF as a drug transport vehicle. A search of the limo produced no contraband; the vehicle was later forfeited and sold at public auction. Subsequently, agents received a tip that the Hummer limousine contained concealed compartments that had not been discovered during the previous search. In August 2008, agents re-located the limousine, which was then in the possession of its fourth innocent owner since its sale by the government in November 2005.

With federal search warrant in hand, agents again searched the limousine, finally discovering the compartments, or “traps,” and removing from them seven semi-automatic firearms and nearly $900,000 in cash, believed to be proceeds from one of the BMF's last major cocaine transactions.

DEMETRIUS FLENORY and his brother and co-leader of the BMF, TERRY LEE FLENORY, 38, were named in the cocaine and money laundering indictment issued in Detroit. Both were convicted and sentenced last month to 30-year prison terms.

This case was investigated by Special Agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, assisted by the United States Marshals Service; the Internal Revenue Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Atlanta High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force; the Tennessee Department of Safety; the Atlanta Police Department; the DeKalb County Police Department; and the Henry County Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Cassandra Schansman and Robert McBurney prosecuted the case.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Atlanta recommends parents and children learn about the dangers of drugs at

For further information please contact United States Attorney Nahmias, or Charysse L. Alexander, Executive Assistant United States Attorney, through Patrick Crosby, Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Attorney's Office, at (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia is

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Third Atlanta Police Officer Pleads Guilty In Fatal Shooting of Elderly Woman

PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Justice Department announced October 30, 2008, that former Atlanta Police Department (APD) Officer Arthur Bruce Tesler pleaded guilty in federal district court to conspiring to violate the civil rights of Kathryn Johnston, 92, in connection with her fatal shooting during the execution of an illegal search warrant at her Atlanta home on Nov.21, 2006.

Tesler, of Ackworth, Ga., joins two other former APD officers who pleaded guilty last year to state and federal charges in the case. Gregg Junnier, of Woodstock, Ga., and Jason R. Smith, of Oxford, Ga., pleaded guilty in state court to voluntary manslaughter, violation of oath by a public officer, criminal solicitation and false statements, and in federal court to a civil rights conspiracy violation that resulted in the death of Ms. Johnston. Smith also pleaded guilty in state court to one count of perjury. Junnier and Smith also agreed to cooperate in a broader investigation of APD officer misconduct, which has since been completed.

"When law enforcement officers do not live up to the high ideals they typically uphold, we will not hesitate to take action," said Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. "The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute those who cross the line and commit such violent criminal acts."

According to the information presented in court, Junnier and Smith, on several occasions while working as APD narcotics officers, made false statements in sworn affidavits to state magistrate judges in order to obtain "no knock" search warrants for residences and other locations where the officers believed illegal drugs would be found.

On the afternoon of Nov. 21, 2006, Smith, Junnier and Tesler executed such a warrant at Johnston's home, knowing that the warrant had been obtained on the basis of false information that Smith had presented to a magistrate judge. The victim, who was the only occupant of the house, fired through the door a single .38 caliber shot, which hit no one. Junnier, Smith and four other officers returned fire, hitting the victim with five or six shots, one of which was fatal.

Officers searched the home after the shooting, but found no drugs. Smith then planted in the basement of the house three bags of marijuana that the officers had seized elsewhere earlier that day. Tesler then filed a false APD incident report stating that a purchase of crack had been made at Johnston's home earlier that day and Smith submitted two bags containing crack that falsely indicated the drugs were bought by an informant at 933 Neal Street, the home of the victim. The defendants also met to fabricate a story, which they later recounted to APD homicide investigators, falsely justifying the events leading to the shooting of Kathryn Johnston.

Under Tesler's plea agreement, the parties agreed that the appropriate sentence under the advisory federal sentencing guidelines is 121 months. The federal sentence will run concurrently with Tesler's 54 month state sentence arising from the same criminal conduct. Junnier also faces a guidelines sentence of 121 months, and Smith faces a guidelines sentence of 151 months; those two defendants may, however, receive reductions based on their cooperation with the Government's investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jon-Peter Kelly, U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias, and Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Counsel Paige M. Fitzgerald are prosecuting the case.


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CPSC Urges Consumers to Replace Batteries in Smoke Alarms This Weekend

Change your clocks. Replace your smoke alarm batteries. Both are important this weekend as Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 2.

While changing your clock can keep you on time for work on Monday, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) advises consumers that putting fresh batteries in your smoke alarms can save your life.

In recent years, an estimated annual average of 378,700 fires, 2,740 deaths, 13,090 injuries and $5.6 billion in property losses associated with residential fires have been reported by fire departments.

"Smoke alarms save lives. That's a fact," said CPSC Acting Chairman Nancy Nord. "Working smoke alarms buy you valuable time to get out of your home when there's a fire."

CPSC urges consumers to install smoke alarms on every level of their home, outside sleeping areas, and inside each bedroom. To minimize nuisance alarms, install smoke alarms at least 10 feet from the stove and oven.

CPSC staff recommends installing both ionization and photoelectric type smoke alarms. Ionization type smoke alarms typically detect flaming fires more quickly, while photoelectric type smoke alarms typically detect smoldering fires sooner.

In addition to replacing smoke alarm batteries, consumers should test their smoke alarms every month to make sure they are operating properly - and never disable a smoke alarm. Long life smoke alarms with 10-year batteries are also available to consumers.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Senate Discusses Budgets and Programs of Criminal Justice

The joint Senate Appropriations subcommittee continued its meeting series today with the Criminal Justice subcommittee and the Best Value in Government Task Force joint workshop at the Capitol. The subcommittee discussed agency reports, efficiencies, and cost savings for the Department of Pardons and Paroles and the Department of Corrections (DOC). Senators Johnny Grant (R- Milledgeville) and Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) co-chaired the meeting.

“As we go through these budgets to eliminate non-essential spending, we must keep in mind the well-being of our state,” said Seabaugh. “We cannot cut budgets at the risk of citizen protection from violent offenders.”

Each agency presented an overview of programs, efficiencies, and cost savings that have been implemented. The current budgets were submitted and several agencies were asked to provide further detailed information on particular programs or services. Members of the committee focused on uncovering duplicated services and redundancies between agencies.

Several issues discussed today were the DOC’s ongoing facility upgrades intended to reduce their operating budget and the Department of Pardons and Paroles converting to an electronic filing system to manage their caseload more efficiently. During the meeting, the committee encouraged agencies to consider the cost benefit of outsourcing several of their essential functions, prisons becoming more self-sufficient through inmate labor, and combining resources with other state agencies to streamline expenditures.

Additional joint workshops are scheduled through mid-December. Topics for those meetings include natural resources and agriculture, health, education and fiscal management. The workshops are being held at the request of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who has charged the Senate to proactively identify non-essential government services and maximize efficiency and value in our state government.
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Monday, October 27, 2008

FBI Announces Results of Three-Day Child Sex Trafficking Sweep

Today the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Justice, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children announced the conclusion of a three-day law enforcement action—Operation Cross Country II—aimed at combating sex trafficking of children. A similar enforcement action took place in June of this year as part of Operation Cross Country. Information obtained from the June enforcement action led FBI special agents and task force officers to identify other underage victims of sex trafficking. Both enforcement actions are aimed at disrupting the cycle of victimization of children involved in prostitution by getting them off the streets and at developing sufficient evidence to bring serious federal charges against the pimps who are profiting from the sale of children in this way.

Last week, the FBI joined with more than 92 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies in Operation Cross Country II across 29 cities. This effort led to 642 arrests and most importantly, the removal of 47 children from the cycle of victimization.

“Sex trafficking of children is one of the most violent and unconscionable crimes committed in this country,” said FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole. “For that reason, we are committed to working with our partners to bring those who exploit children to justice. There are few law enforcement missions more important than protecting our nation’s children.”

“The FBI's leadership in attacking the problem of domestic trafficking of children is unprecedented and historic. These kids are victims being used as commodities for sale or trade. The unique partnership between the FBI, the Justice Department, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children is saving lives and bringing organized criminals to justice,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

In June 2003, the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Crimes Against Children Unit, in close cooperation with the Department of Justice’s Child Exploitations-Obscenity Section (CEOS) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), formed the Innocence Lost National Initiative to address criminal enterprises involved in the domestic sex trafficking of children. This program brings state and federal law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and social service providers from around the country to NCMEC, where the groups are trained together. In addition, CEOS has reinforced the training by assigning prosecutors to help bring cases in those cities plagued by child prostitution. Our alliance is proving to be a success. To date, the work of our 28 Innocence Lost task forces and working groups around the country have resulted in 265 indictments, 365 convictions on a combination of state and federal charges, 46 criminal enterprises disrupted and 36 successfully dismantled. Most importantly, our efforts have led to the recovery of 575 child victims.

The FBI extends its sincere appreciation to our partners who participated in Operation Cross Country II and ongoing enforcement efforts:

Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, Alexandria Police Department, Anchorage Police Department, Ann Arundel County Police Department, Arlington Heights Police Department, Atlanta Police Department, Atlantic City Police Department, Aurora Police Department, Boston Police Department, California Department of Justice, Campbell Police Department, Chelsea Police Department, Chicago Police Department, City of Miami Police Department, Cleveland County Sheriff’s Office, College Park Police Department, Concord Police Department, Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Costa Mesa Police Department, Dallas Police Department, DC Metropolitan Police Department, Delaware State Police, Denver Police Department, Detroit Police Department, Dublin Police Department, Edmond Police Department, Egg Harbor Township Police Department, Elk Grove Police Department, Fulton County Police Department, Glenview Police Department, Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Grays Lake Police Department, Gurnee Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Hapeville Police Department, Harris Country Sheriff’s Office, Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Honolulu Police Department, Houston Police Department, Howard County Police Department, Immigration and Custom’s Enforcement, Indianapolis Police Department, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lakewood Police Department, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Livermore Police Department, Louisiana State Police, Madison Heights Police Department, Maryland State Police, Massachusetts State Police, Miami Beach Police Department, Miami Dade Police Department, Michigan State Police, Midwest City Police Department, Milpitas Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department, Moreno Valley Police Department, Morgan Hill Police Department, Mundelein Police Department, Nevada Attorney General’s Office, New Jersey State Police, Norman Police Department, Oakland Police Department, Office of Inspector General - Social Security Administration, Oklahoma City Police Department, Ontario Police Department, Phoenix Police Department, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office, Pomona Police Department, Prince William County Police Department, Reno Police Department, Riverside Police Department, Rolling Meadows Police Department, Rowan University Police Department, Sacramento Police Department, San Bernardino Police Department, San Diego Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, San Jose Police Department, San Mateo Police Department, San Rafael Police Department, Santa Rosa Police Department, Shreveport, Police Department, Southfield Police Department, Sparks Police Department, Tacoma Police Department, Tampa Police Department, Toledo Police Department, University of Nevada at Reno Police Department, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne County Sheriff's Office, and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

The charges announced today are merely accusations and all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Citizen Corps-LEPC Leadership Forum Under Way in Pine Mountain

The annual Citizen Corps-Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) Leadership Forum, hosted by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), began at 8:30 a.m. today in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

Approximately 100 participants, including Citizen Corps volunteers, emergency managers, elected officials and representatives from the private sector will hear from experts about the Community Emergency Response Team, Risk Management Plan and Emergency Planning/Community Right to Know (EPCRA) programs. Other topics include Medical Reserve Corps, using proven marketing principles to enhance a volunteer program, and the Strategic National Stockpile.

The Citizen Corps-LEPC Forum is sponsored by Propac, the Georgia Jaycees, Rite in the Rain, Tee Time Enterprises and MLS and Associates. Harris County Manager and Emergency Management Agency Director Monty Davis will address participants on Monday, October 27 at 8:30 a.m. The keynote speaker will be GEMA and Homeland Security Director Charley English. The forum will conclude at noon on Tuesday, October 28.

Citizen Corps brings together community, emergency and government leaders to involve community members in emergency preparedness, planning, mitigation, response, and recovery. Through Citizen Corps and its program partners and affiliates, individuals can find training and volunteer opportunities to support first responders in an emergency. There are 57 Citizen Corps Councils in Georgia.

LEPC is a partnership between local industries, citizens, governments and emergency response agencies, as required by the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act, that establishes rules and procedures for coordinating the local response and handling public requests for information in the event of an accident involving hazardous materials.

For more information about GEMA, visit To learn how to prepare for disaster, visit
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Governor Perdue Recognizes 19 Georgians for Acts of Heroism and Contributions to Public Safety

Today Governor Sonny Perdue announced the recipients of the Governor’s Public Safety Awards (GPSA) at a ceremony in Forsyth recognizing 15 public safety professionals for acts of heroism and four for contributions to the profession. The recipients were given medallions and their names were added to the GPSA monument at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC).

“Georgia is proud to recognize our law enforcement officers and emergency responders for their commitment to Georgia’s public safety,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “These individuals exhibit courage and dedication every day to keep us safe.”

The annual GPSA program began in 1998 to recognize the outstanding accomplishments and commitment of Georgia’s public safety community.

“We are honored to have the opportunity to pay tribute to Georgia’s public safety professionals who risk their lives daily and sacrifice time away from their families to protect our citizens,” said J. Dale Mann, GPSA committee chairman and GPSTC director.

The GPSA program recognizes public safety professionals in the following two categories:

· Act of Heroism – Recognizes those who performed an exceptional deed which resulted in saving lives and/or protecting property.
· Outstanding Contribution which Enhanced the Profession – Job performance which had an overwhelming positive affect on the overall profession.

Personnel from each discipline of public safety as well as state employees with public safety authority were eligible to receive the award. Nominations were submitted by local governments, state agencies, associations, police departments, sheriff’s offices, correctional facilities, fire departments, 9-1-1 communications, emergency medical services and emergency management agencies.

Recipients of the 2008 Governor’s Public Safety Awards are as follows:

Heroism Recipients

· Daniel Shane Burke – Lieutenant – Sylvania Fire Department
· Duane Owens – Firefighter – Sylvania Fire Department
· Trevin A. Moore – Corporal – Sylvania Police Department
· Sammie Joe Cephus – Captain – Montezuma Fire & Emergency Services
· Dorminey McCrae – Officer – Tifton Police Department
· Stacy Prater – Flight Medic – Erlanger Health System, LIFE FORCE
· Frank G. Rhodes – Surveillance Officer – Georgia Department of Corrections
· Drew Hood – Private – Catoosa County Fire-Rescue
· Scott Phillips – Captain – Catoosa County Fire-Rescue
· Josh Shoemaker – Private – Catoosa County Fire-Rescue
· R. S. Caviness – Sergeant – DeKalb County Police Department
· Michael Dahnke – Corporal – Columbus Police Department
· Jason Elliott – Sergeant – Brunswick Police Department
· James M. Huth – Police Officer Senior – Gwinnett County Police Department
· Scott Short – Sergeant First Class – Georgia State Patrol

Contribution to Profession Recipients

· M. L. “Bud” Owens – Director of EMS – Floyd Hospital EMS
· Dr. Robbie Friedmann – Distinguished Chair of Public Safety Partnerships and Director, Georgia International Law Enforcement Exchange
· R. L. “Chuck” Kelley – Chief – Stone Mountain Park Department of Public Safety
· Don T. Cargile – EMS Director – Athens Regional Medical Center EMS

For further details on each of the honorees, please visit the Georgia Public Safety Training Center’s web site at and click on the link marked Governor’s Public Safety Awards. Pictures from the ceremony will be available on our website, by Friday, October 24th.
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FBI Seeking Information about Threatening Hoax Letters

Georgia is among the 11 states to which letters were sent from Texas.

Today the FBI issued photographs of a threatening hoax letter and its envelope, one of more than 50 such letters received this week by financial institutions in at least 11 states. Many of the letters have contained an unknown powder substance. The letters have all been postmarked from Amarillo, Texas.

The FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and state and local authorities are investigating each of the incidents. Field tests conducted thus far on the powder have been negative. Additional testing is being conducted at regional laboratories. The FBI and our law enforcement partners are following up on numerous leads.

“Sending a hoax letter is a serious crime, and a drain on law enforcement resources,” said Section Chief Doug Perdue, Investigative and Operations Section, FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate. “We will continue to work diligently to identify and arrest those responsible.”

Anyone with information about these letters should contact the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, or their local authorities. You can also submit a tip online at The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Former Ft. Stewart Soldier Receives 70 Months Imprisonment for Faking Wife's Death and Collecting Insurance Proceeds

Edmund A. Booth, Jr., United States Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, announced that Ingerberth Baird, age 38, was sentenced on October 14, 2008, in U.S. District Court in Savannah to 70 months in federal prison by U.S. District Judge B. Avant Edenfield.

Booth commented that, in imposing sentence, Judge Edenfield made an upward variance from the advisory guidelines range of 44 to 51 months, finding that Baird committed perjury when he testified on his own behalf at trial and noting that Baird remained totally unrepentant of his criminal actions. Baird had been convicted by a jury on January 29, 2008, on one count of conspiracy, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371, one count of making false claims against the United States, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 287, and one count of mail fraud, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1341.

Baird had been extradited from Trinidad to face the charges in this case in June 2007. Booth noted that Baird will be transferred to the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement for deportation to his home country of Trinidad after he completes serving his sentence.

The convictions rested upon the evidence at trial which established the following :Ingerberth Baird and his wife, Nicolette, lived in Hinesville, Georgia, in 2002. Ingerberth Baird was an enlisted officer in the U.S. Army, posted at Ft. Stewart. Nicolette Baird was an elementary school teacher at Joseph Martin Elementary School in Hinesville. In September 2002, Nicolette Baird requested time off to travel to Trinidad, where she had been born, to attend a family funeral. Several days later, a person identifying himself as Nicolette's husband called the principal of Joseph Martin Elementary to report that Nicolette had died in an automobile accident in Trinidad. Ingerberth Baird sought leave from his duties with the United States Army and traveled to Trinidad shortly after Nicolette's reported death, spending eleven days there before returning to the United States. The evidence further showed that in October and November, 2002, Ingerberth Baird applied for benefits under life insurance policies covering Nicolette through the U.S. Army (under the Family Servicemembers Group Life Insurance program, or "FSGLI") and the Liberty County, Georgia school system.

In connection with those claims, he presented a handwritten death certificate and handwritten police report purportedly describing Nicolette's death in Trinidad. Ingerberth Baird received over $100,000 from the U.S. Army FSGLI policy on Nicolette. The benefit was paid in the form of a checking account funded with the entire benefit amount, and a checkbook drawn on that account was mailed to Ingerberth Baird at his home. Over the course of October and November, 2002, Ingerberth Baird wrote numerous checks that totally depleted the account. In December 2002, Ingerberth Baird left the United States for Trinidad.

Shortly thereafter, it was determined that the death claim was false in that the handwritten death certificate was counterfeit and that no registrar of deaths with the name listed on the death certificate actually existed. In April 2003, agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation located Ingerberth Baird and Nicolette Baird, alive, living together in Cunupia, Trinidad. At that time, Ingerberth Baird admitted to the FBI agents that he knew on his first trip to Trinidad in September 2002, right after his wife's reported death, that no accident had occurred and that his wife was alive.

Booth praised the efforts of Special Agents Joseph Swiatek and Freddie Watkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorneys R. Brian Tanner and Brian F. McEvoy.

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Former Clayton County Police Officer Sentenced for Sending Obscene Matter on the Internet

CASEY AUSTIN CARMICHAEL, 29, of Peachtree City, Georgia, was sentenced October 16, 2008, by United States District Judge Willis B. Hunt, Jr, on a charge of attempting to transfer obscene matter over the internet to a person under 16 years old.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today’s sentencing, “As a police officer, this defendant abused the public’s trust and his police computer to do the exact opposite of what he was supposed to do. Instead of fighting crime and arresting those who would do harm to our children and our community, he became a criminal and a threat to children.”

CARMICHAEL was sentenced to 2 years, 9 months in prison to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. There is no parole in the federal system. CARMICHAEL pleaded guilty to the charge on August 14, 2008.

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: In September 2007, CARMICHAEL, while on duty as a Patrolman with the Clayton County Police Department, used his Department-issued computer to transfer obscene materials to a person CARMICHAEL believed to be girl under 16 years of age. CARMICHAEL had contacted her in a “chat room” on the Internet, and had conversations with her relating to obscene materials over several days while on duty as a Patrolman. The underage “girl” was actually an FBI Agent working undercover with the Safe Child Task Force. CARMICHAEL was dismissed from the Clayton County Police Department upon his indictment in this case.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI and its Safe Child Task Force.

Assistant United States Attorney David E. McClernan prosecuted the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood. In February 2006, the Attorney General launched Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from online exploitation and abuse. Led by the United States Attorney's Offices around the country, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit

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Friday, October 17, 2008

Georgia Man Sentenced for 36 Months in Prison for Inernet Investment Fraud

A Georgia man was sentenced October 15, 2008, in U.S. District Court for using an Internet website in the name of the Transnational Fund to fraudulently induce persons to invest in so-called “certificates” promising a guaranteed rate of return in nine months.

United States Attorney Michael J. Sullivan, Warren T. Bamford, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation - Boston Field Division and Police Commissioner Edward Davis of the Boston Police Department, announced today that MICHAEL PATRICK LUCKETT, age 37, of 6015 Henson Rd., Gainseville, GA, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge William G. Young to 36 months imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. LUCKETT was also ordered to pay $97,387 in restitution. The Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to distribute approximately $222,900, held in frozen bank accounts, to victims in the near future. LUCKETT pled guilty to four counts of mail fraud on July 14, 2008.

At an earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the Court that had the case proceeded to trial the Government’s evidence would have proven that LUCKETT used a website in the name of Transnational Fund to induce individuals to invest in “certificates” with a guaranteed return of principal and approximately 6.35% interest after nine months, but that instead of investing the funds he received, LUCKETT used them for his own personal and business purposes. By this scheme, LUCKETT induced approximately fifteen persons from around the United States to send him a total of more than $450,000. LUCKETT operated the Transnational Fund scheme from an apartment in Boston, while the website directed prospective investors to mail their checks to an address in Hartford, which LUCKETT arranged to be forwarded to him. LUCKETT opened multiple bank accounts in the name of the Transnational Fund into which he deposited investors’ funds, and that he used nearly $100,000 of the funds received for expenses such as his personal rent and meals, making cash withdrawals and promoting the Transnational Fund website.

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Boston Police Department, with assistance from the Boston Office of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark J. Balthazard of Sullivan’s Economic Crimes Unit.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Former Georgia Real Estate Agent Sentenced to 14 Years in Federal Prison for Mortgage Fraud

Joseph Sterling Jetton, 61, of Woodstock, Ga., was sentenced October 10, 2008, to 14 years in federal prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and ordered to pay $11,194,300 in restitution on charges of conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering related to a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scheme. Jetton was convicted by a jury on Nov. 26, 2007, after a three week trial, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Beverly B. Martin.

According to U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias and the information presented in court, Jetton orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme that involved millions of dollars in fraudulently inflated mortgage loans being provided to unqualified straw borrowers from late 2004 through early 2006. The straw borrowers were paid through shell companies as much as $600,000 per property from the fraudulently obtained loan proceeds. Jetton wrote sales contracts that failed to disclose that the sales prices of the residences had been inflated and that hundreds of thousands of dollars out of the loan proceeds were going to the buyers and others. Jetton personally derived more than a $1 million in commissions from the mortgage fraud scheme.

"This defendant was a licensed real estate agent. Using his specialized knowledge of real estate and residential mortgage financing, he orchestrated a mortgage fraud scheme that has caused millions of dollars in losses to lenders and untold damage to neighborhoods," said U.S. Attorney Nahmias. "Nearly a dozen people have been sentenced to federal prison for their involvement in this defendant's scheme. The long prison sentence handed down today accounts for his leadership role in the scheme and the misuse of his position as a real estate agent to commit the fraud. We will continue to work with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to vigorously investigate and prosecute mortgage fraud schemes, especially those perpetrated by professionals in the real estate industry."

Eleven other defendants have already been sentenced to prison terms in related cases, with sentences ranging from eight months to more than ten years in federal prison. Raymond Joseph Costanzo Jr., 63, of Clayton, Ga. -- a closing attorney in the scheme -- was sentenced to three years and five months in federal prison. A loan broker in the scheme, Olympia D. Ammons, 31, of St. Louis, Mo., was sentenced to five years and three months in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $7,549,044 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Gale McKenzie, William L. McKinnon Jr. and Douglas Gilfillan prosecuted the case. This case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Halloween H.E.A.T. No TREAT For DUI’s: Drive Drunk and The Party’s Over!

Don’t let your Halloween weekend turn into a nightmare!

Halloween is a fun fall holiday tradition for all ages. Unfortunately a nationwide spike in Halloween drunk driving incidents every year also makes this celebration one of the most dangerous times to be on the road.

On Halloween nearly half of all fatal crashes are alcohol-related.

All that “Night of the Dead” stuff used to be just a harmless mix of ancient legend and Hollywood hype. Now, 44-percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night involve drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher. And on Halloween nights when costumed children run out onto our streets and roadways the trick for every driver is to stay alert and sober to avoid tragedy.

Drive Drunk and The Party’s Over

“Cinco de Mayo, St. Patrick’s Day, and now, Halloween have morphed into truly terrifying nights of deadly drinking and driving deaths on the Georgia social calendar,” says Director Bob Dallas of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. “Halloween should be a time for scary costumes, trick or treats with the kids, and good family fun. But we’re not talking kids’-stuff anymore. And neither are the cops. That’s why state and local traffic enforcement in communities across Metro Atlanta will be out in force this Halloween with a high visibility DUI enforcement blitz to crack down on drunk drivers.”

Weekend DUI Crackdown NO TREAT For Drunk Drivers

To keep your Halloween party-plans from melting down into nightmares, on Friday, October 24th, H.E.A.T. Units from the Atlanta Police Department will team-up with HEAT Units from Dekalb County and the Georgia State Patrol NightHawks to conduct Halloween road-checks and concentrated patrols around the Atlanta Metro Area. For more information the night of the crackdown, contact APD Sgt. Ron Miniatis at 404-209-5260.

..And This is No Skeleton Crew! Peachtree City PD will also be conducting joint Halloween HEAT patrols with the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Fayetteville PD, Coweta HEAT, and Georgia State Patrol units in their jurisdiction the same night.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Amber Alert Issued for Georgia Child

Editor's Note: The license plate for the black Cadillac is 616HWS.

If you have information, please contact Burke County Sheriff's Office, 706-554-2133

A three year old white male, Isaiah Ezekiel Tan, has been abducted. He was last seen in Midville, Georgia, wearing a navy blue t-shirt and cartoon underwear. The child is 3'2" and weighs 36 pounds.

He is believed to be with suspect Deloris Marie Miller, age 46, in a black cadillac with Tennessee plates. Miller is 5'6", weighs 150 pounds ad has brown hair and eyes. She was last seen wearing a light brown button-up shirt with blue jeans and black tennis shoes.

It is believed the vehicle may be traveling to Tennessee.

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Monday, October 6, 2008

“Counter-Jumper” Caught and Convicted After Committing Seven Armed Bank Robberies

A jury in federal district court returned a guilty verdict late September 25, 2008, against SOUKSAKHONE PHAKNIKONE, a/k/a “BRUCE PHAKNIKONE,” a/k/a "Trigga", 26, of Dacula, Georgia, on seven counts of armed bank robbery, seven counts of use of a firearm during the commission of the armed bank robberies, and one count of being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm. PHAKNIKONE was convicted on all counts of the indictment after the jury deliberated approximately five hours.

United States Attorney David E. Nahmias said of today’s verdict, “This defendant has terrorized bank tellers for the last time. At trial many victims of this defendant described the fear and danger he created when he vaulted the teller counters in seven separate armed bank robberies. “Trigga” used his loaded semi-automatic firearm to steal thousands of dollars. Our community will be a safer place as a result of the cooperative and coordinated efforts of the many federal, state and local law enforcement agencies who worked on this case.”

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Greg Jones said, “We are extremely pleased with the jury's verdict today. The emotional harm caused by Mr. Phaknikone to the numerous bank employees during his crime spree cannot, and is not overlooked by those pursuing justice in this matter. We thank not only the diligent prosecutors in this case but also the jury in remembering the victims as this case was presented and the violent nature of Mr. Phaknikone's crimes.”

According to United States Attorney Nahmias and the information presented in court: PHAKNIKONE was arrested on April 6, 2007, after he robbed a Wachovia Bank in Suwanee, Georgia, and led police on a high speed chase that ended in a collision and his apprehension at gun point. The evidence at trial proved that on seven separate occasions, “Trigga” robbed banks wearing a ski mask, hoodie, gloves and carrying a semi-automatic firearm. In each robbery he vaulted the teller counter and personally grabbed the cash. Although he went to great lengths to conceal his identity, investigators recognized his signature actions, including jumping the counter in each of his robberies. Intensive investigation revealed PHAKNIKONE had visited a number of the banks without his mask to “case” and plan the robberies. Agents obtained bank surveillance photos from “Trigga’s” pre-robbery visits to the banks, which in effect, removed his mask for the jury and revealed “Trigga’s” true identity.

PHAKNIKONE faces a maximum sentence of seven life sentences plus 150 years, and faces a mandatory minimum of 157 years in prison, and a fine of up to $3,750,000. Sentencing is not yet scheduled before United States District Judge Richard W. Story.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, and police officers from the following departments: Suwanee Police Department, Lilburn Police Department, Duluth Police Department, Gwinnett County Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, and Barrow County Sheriff’s Department.

Assistant United States Attorneys Matthew T. Jackson and Angela M. Jordan are prosecuting the case.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

City’s Statement Regarding Airport Advertising Litigation

On September 30, 2008, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia denied motions for summary judgment filed by the City of Atlanta and five current and former City employees in litigation related to the procurement of advertising concessions services at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. When originally filed in November 2004, the plaintiff, an unsuccessful bidder for the advertising contract, named as defendants fourteen individual City officials and employees, but nine of those individuals, including Mayor Franklin, have since been dismissed from the case.

In denying the motions, the Court simply determined that factual issues exist that should be resolved by a jury. The City looks forward to the opportunity to present its case to a jury at the appropriate time and is currently in the process of reviewing the order and considering its appeal options and next steps.

The City takes pride in its fair and transparent procurement processes and firmly believes that the airport advertising procurement, in particular, was conducted with integrity and in compliance with all applicable laws and practices.
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Wednesday, October 1, 2008

More Than 900 Defendants Charged with Disaster-Related Fraud by Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force During Three Years in Operation

The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force has brought federal charges against 907 individuals in 43 federal judicial districts across the country since Hurricane Katrina made landfall in southern Louisiana in August 2005, Acting Assistant Attorney General Matthew Friedrich of the Criminal Division announced today. The Task Force, chaired by Friedrich, reported the charges as part of its accomplishments during its third year of operation in 2007-2008.

In September 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Justice established the Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force. The Task Force is charged with deterring, detecting, and prosecuting individuals who try to take advantage of the disasters related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike, as well as other natural disasters. The Task Force tracks referrals of potential cases and complaints, coordinates with law enforcement agencies to initiate investigations, and works with the appropriate U.S. Attorneys’ Offices to ensure timely and effective prosecution of disaster-related fraud cases. By using the investigative assets of federal law enforcement agencies, federal inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement, together with the prosecutorial resources of the 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Task Force can act quickly and aggressively to bring to justice those who would further harm the victims of these natural disasters.

“Whenever a natural disaster strikes, there will always be unscrupulous people willing to take advantage of victim assistance and rebuilding efforts,” said Matthew Friedrich, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division and chair of the Task Force. “Those who would try to profit from the misfortunes of disaster victims should know that the Department of Justice, federal investigative agencies, and inspectors general will continue their aggressive pursuit of disaster fraud.”

Notable accomplishments for the Task Force in the past year include the following:

* Joint Command Center . To date, the Command Center has received and screened more than 26,000 complaints relating to disaster fraud and referred more than 17,000 of those complaints to law enforcement for investigation. In addition, in 2008 the Command Center disaster fraud hotline was made available to receive complaints about possible fraud relating to the California wildfires, the Iowa floods, and most recently Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

* Prosecutions . Throughout the past year, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices across the country have prosecuted numerous hurricane-related cases that involved a wide range of crimes including emergency-benefit fraud, identity theft, procurement fraud, and public corruption. The ability to prosecute disaster-related fraud cases was enhanced when the Emergency Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007 was enacted into law in January 2008. Examples of fraud cases include:

+ Contract Fraud/Corruption . On May 15, 2008, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Louisiana indicted a former contract employee for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and a dirt, sand and gravel subcontractor in connection with a $16 million hurricane protection project for the reconstruction of the Lake Cataouatche Levee, located south of New Orleans. Both defendants were charged with one count of conspiring to commit bribery; one defendant was charged with two counts of offering a bribe to a public official; and the other defendant was charged with one count of demanding and agreeing to accept a bribe as a public official.

+ Investment Fraud . On Feb. 8, 2008, a federal grand jury in the Southern District of Texas indicted a man on two counts of wire fraud relating to his alleged operation of a fraudulent investment scheme. Beginning in 2006, the defendant allegedly falsely told investors he was using their money to purchase and refurbish Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) trailers, but failed to ever purchase the trailers and failed to return the investors’ money.

+ Charity Fraud . On Nov. 28, 2007, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sentenced two brothers to 111 months and 105 months in prison, respectively, for their roles in fraudulently operating a Web site that purported to raise money on behalf of the Salvation Army for Hurricane Katrina victims. The defendants registered on Sept. 3, 2005, less than a week after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans. The website stated that it was “The Salvation Army International Home Page” and falsely purported to solicit charitable donations for Hurricane Katrina, and later Hurricane Rita, relief. A link on the website directed contributors to donate via PayPal, a service that allows for online money transfers. The defendants created numerous accounts with the service and registered those accounts using the names and identification information, including Social Security numbers, of other individuals not involved in the fraudulent scheme. The accounts, however, were linked by the brothers to bank accounts belonging to one or both of them. The fraudulent website collected more than $48,000 before all the accounts were frozen.

+ Charity Fraud . On Sept. 24, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana sentenced a defendant to 17 months in prison for mail fraud in connection with Katrina disaster-relief funds granted to the Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, the church where he ministered. The congregation’s building was devastated by flood water from Hurricane Katrina; but the church did not have flood insurance so the congregation applied for a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan and a grant from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund to offset the cost of rebuilding. The church was awarded a $252,000 disaster loan from the SBA and a $35,000 grant from the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund. According to court documents, the defendant created a scheme to defraud the church of the $35,000 Bush-Clinton grant for his own personal benefit by having the fund’s check mailed to his house and then deposited into a bank account that he established and controlled. The defendant created a similar scheme to defraud the church of the SBA loan money by having the SBA wire the initial $10,000 disbursement of the disaster loan into the same bank account. He spent at least $10,000 of the relief money on a new Dodge Durango for himself.

+ Embezzlement . On June 6, 2008, a federal grand jury in the Middle District of Alabama indicted a former FEMA manager for embezzlement of a trailer intended for victims of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, embezzlement of a government vehicle and obstruction of justice. The indictment alleges that the defendant, while the manager of the FEMA emergency housing unit in Selma, Ala., which FEMA used for the storage, transportation, and delivery of travel trailers in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, embezzled a 39-foot Cherokee Travel Trailer and his government vehicle, to which he had access by virtue of his management position with FEMA. It also charges him with attempting to corruptly influence the ongoing investigation against him in the Middle District of Alabama.

+ Individual Assistance Fraud . On Sept. 30, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas unsealed an indictment charging a defendant with mail fraud, aggravated identity theft and disaster assistance fraud for her role in submitting multiple false applications for emergency benefits to FEMA. The new statute under which the defendant is charged was enacted in January 2008 as part of the Emergency Disaster Assistance Fraud Penalty Enhancement Act of 2007. According to the indictment, the defendant submitted multiple false claims to FEMA for assistance relating to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 and Hurricane Ike in 2008. It also alleges that the defendant not only used slight variations of her name and Social Security numbers belonging to others, but assisted her husband and two relatives in filing multiple false FEMA claims using Social Security numbers belonging to others.

+ Individual Assistance Fraud . On June 9, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas sentenced eight defendants for their roles in a FEMA fraud conspiracy involving more than 70 applications for Katrina and Rita benefits on behalf of residents in area apartment complexes who were not victims of the hurricanes. The leader of the group was sentenced to 33 months in prison and ordered to pay $92,958 in restitution and forfeit the Lincoln Navigator she purchased with the fraudulent funds.

+ Individual Assistance Fraud . On Jan.10, 2008, the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama sentenced a defendant to 43 years in prison—the longest sentence to date handed down in a Katrina- or Rita-related fraud case. At trial, the jury found the defendant guilty of 22 counts involving the filing of false claims for Hurricane Katrina disaster assistance, theft of funds intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina, threatening a witness from another Hurricane Katrina case, conspiracy, drug distribution, weapons charges, and making false statements to federal authorities. The defendant’s sentence comprised 34 years of statutory mandatory minimum sentences for the threatening of a witness, for the drug and gun charges, and for the aggravated identity theft. The additional nine years related to the defendant’s theft, conspiracy to defraud FEMA, and drug distribution charges. As related to the Katrina fraud, the sentencing judge additionally found that while the defendant was successful in stealing $80,000 from FEMA, her intent was to steal more than $500,000 in FEMA funds.

The Task Force includes the Criminal, Civil, and Antitrust Divisions of the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorneys' Offices, the FBI, the Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Trade Commission, the Securities and Exchange Commission, federal inspectors general, and various representatives of state and local law enforcement.

The Hurricane Katrina Fraud Task Force continues to combat fraud relating to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Gustav, and Ike, as well as their aftermath. To date, the Command Center has received nearly 667 calls regarding potential Hurricane Gustav-related fraud and nearly 466 calls regarding potential Hurricane Ike-related fraud. Members of the public can report fraud, waste, abuse or allegations of mismanagement involving disaster relief operations through the Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721, the Disaster Fraud Fax at 225-334-4707 or the Disaster Fraud e-mail at Individuals can also report criminal activity to the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI or

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Fayette County School System and Local Law Enforcement Offer Community Awareness Seminar

The Fayette County School System, local law enforcement agencies and District Attorney Scott Ballard have collaborated again this year to offer another series of Community Awareness Seminars at each of the county’s five high schools in October.

The free seminars offer participants an opportunity to learn more about safety and legal issues affecting Fayette’s students. Seminar topics will be lead by local law enforcement representatives with knowledge and experience in the areas.

Discussion topics include bullying and cyber-bullying presented by the Peachtree City Police Department, statutory rape presented by the City of Fayetteville Police Department and alcohol and drug awareness presented by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department.

The seminars are from 7-8:30 p.m. and will be held on the following dates at these locations:

October 6, Starr’s Mill High

October 7, Sandy Creek High

October 9, Whitewater High

October 13, McIntosh High

October 21, Fayette County High

A question and answer session with the seminar panel will follow the presentations. Parents with students of all ages are welcome to attend any seminar location that is most convenient. No preregistration is required.

The purpose of the event is to help parents become better informed about serious issues affecting youth in Fayette County.

This marks the second time that local law enforcement personnel have partnered with the school system to offer Community Awareness Seminars. The first set of seminars were held in February and March and focused on gang awareness, Internet safety and interaction with law enforcement.

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