Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Deal fills Fulton County Superior Court judgeship

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that he has appointed D. Todd Markle to fill the vacancy in the Superior Court of the Atlanta Judicial Circuit. Markle will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of the Honorable Michael D. Johnson. The appointment takes effect upon swearing-in, which should occur within the next few weeks.

D. Todd Markle, Atlanta – Markle currently serves as executive counsel to Gov. Nathan Deal. Previously, he was a partner with the firm Mabry & McClelland. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Georgia and his law degree from Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. He and his wife, Beverly, have two children.

Deal appoints five to public defender standards council

Gov. Nathan Deal today tapped five new members who will join the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council. The Georgia Public Defender Standards Council is a nine-member independent agency within the executive branch of the state government whose mission is to ensure that clients receive adequate and ethical legal representation.

Donna Avans Seagraves
Seagraves has worked as a public defender in Georgia for 24 years. Seagraves received her law degree from the University of Georgia School of Law and went to work with the Legal Aid Office in Athens as an assistant public defender. From there, she moved to the Fulton County Public Defender's Office and and then served as the public defender for Jackson and Barrow counties. Seagraves was appointed circuit public defender for the Piedmont Circuit when the Georgia Public Defender Standards Council was created. She has tried hundreds of criminal cases. She is interested in indigent defense policy, having served as vice president and Indigent Defense Committee member of the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys, president of the Piedmont Bar Association and secretary of the Georgia Association of Circuit Public Defenders. She and her husband, Brian, live in Athens and have one son.

G.S. “Gator” Hodges
Hodges was elected to the Butts County Commission in 2008. He works for CSX Transportation. Previously, Hodges served the public for 10 years as a police officer with the Bryan County Sheriff's Department and the Henry County Police Department. He grew up in Hinesville and graduated from Bradwell Institute. He attended Georgia Southern University, where he studied Criminal Justice. He is a graduate of the 2007 Leadership Butts County course and was the chairperson of the 2009 class. He is also a graduate of the Georgia Academy for Economic Development. Hodges was appointed by the Georgia Speaker of the House to the Middle Ocmulgee Water Council. He also is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Economic Development for the Association County Commissioners of Georgia and is currently in the Leadership Georgia Class of 2010. Most recently, Hodges was named by Georgia Trend Magazine to its "40 Under 40" list in October of 2010. Hodges lives in the Stark community with his wife, Keri, and their son, Noah. Hodges is an active member of Rock Springs Congregational Methodist Church in Milner.

Lamar Paris
Paris is serving his third term as Union County’s sole commissioner. Paris graduated from the University of Georgia with a bachelor’s in Business Administration. He is the Immediate State Past President of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia. Paris serves on several local and regional boards and committees. He has also served on the Georgia EPD Watershed Committee and the Senate Local Sales Tax Study Committee and is currently a member of the State Regional Water Council. Paris is a lifelong member of the First United Methodist Church of Union County. He and his wife, Dinah, have one daughter, Jessica, who also graduated from the University of Georgia.

Ron Cross
Cross, of Evans, chairs the Columbia County Commission. He graduated high school in Greenville and Anderson Junior College in Anderson, S.C., and he attended Furman University. He moved to Augusta in 1967 to begin work for Smith and Coleman Mechanical Engineers, then became the chief engineer for the Medical College of Georgia. Cross has worked in both residential and commercial construction. In 1982, he started CCI Construction Corporation, a commercial, industrial and institutional construction company. Cross worked at CCI Construction until he was elected to office in 2002. He is currently serving his third term as chairman. Cross has been active in several state and regional initiatives, including: the CSRA Regional Transportation Roundtable Executive Committee as chairman, the Association County Commissioners of Georgia Board of Managers, the Savannah-Upper Ogeechee Regional Water Planning Council as chairman, the Governor's Water Contingency Planning Task Force, the Governor's Energy Council and the Clarks Hill Partnership. Cross and his family are members of Wesley United Methodist Church in Evans.

David Sims
Sims is a graduate of the Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University, where he served as president of the Student Bar Association. He practiced law in Savannah for 20 years, handling both civil and criminal cases. There, he was president of the Trial Lawyers Club and president of the Savannah Bar Association. Sims worked for 13 years as a claims counsel for Nationwide Insurance in Atlanta before he retired. He is currently of counsel with the Atlanta law firm of Insley and Race and has emeritus status with the State Bar of Georgia and in Vinings.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Former Car Dealer Convicted in Multiple Fraud Schemes

PHILIP SWINDALL, 50, of Duluth, Georgia, pleaded guilty today in federal district court to bank fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: SWINDALL was involved in selling cars in the Atlanta metro area for the last decade, and had been involved in multiple schemes during that period. The first scheme began in April 2004, when SWINDALL was operating Atlanta Chrysler Dodge, an automobile dealership. He applied for and received $8,200,000 in loans and lines of credit from SouthTrust Bank, which is now Wells Fargo Bank, to fund and operate Atlanta Chrysler Dodge. In addition, SWINDALL had a silent business partner, who put up $4.7 million in collateral, including that partner’s $2,300,000 mansion in Colorado.

By the summer of 2005, the bank’s auditors showed SWINDALL was more than $3,500,000 in debt. SWINDALL claimed that most of the debts were due to slow payments from a fleet customer. Ultimately, the auditors determined that the fleet customer had paid SWINDALL, but SWINDALL had not paid the bank. SWINDALL had in fact used the $3,500,000 so he could operate another dealership, pay off his credit cards, and live a high-end lifestyle for himself and his family, including foreign vacations, household expenses, and household employees. The losses to the Colorado business partner and the bank exceeded $3,500,000.

The second scheme began in 2009, when SWINDALL opened another dealership, Auto Tailor, Inc., in Duluth, Georgia. Over the next year, he purchased more than 30 cars from other dealers either on consignment or by sending the dealers insufficient fund checks. He then sold the cars to customers online through E-Bay. The evidence showed that SWINDALL pocketed over $490,000, and never provided the customers with titles to the cars, or paid the other dealers.

In yet a third fraud scheme, in August 2009, SWINDALL engaged in identity theft and used an employee’s name and other personal information to obtain a $175,000 loan from Dealer Service Corporation as part of another business-related transaction designed to ultimately enrich SWINDALL.

SWINDALL was charged in a criminal information in June 2011 on 17 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. Today he pleaded guilty to one count each of bank fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft. He could receive a maximum sentence of 52 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,500,000. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

Sentencing is scheduled for September 21, 2011, at 11 a.m., before United States District Judge Steven C. Jones.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives of the Duluth, Georgia Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney David Leta is prosecuting the case.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Former Klansman Who Traveled to Georgia for Sex With Two Underage Girls Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

NEAL RAY SCHMIDT, 59, of St. Louis, Missouri, was sentenced today to serve 20 years in federal prison for seeking to have sex with two teenage girls. SCHMIDT, a retired delivery man and former Grand Dragon for the Missouri chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, had traveled from Missouri to Georgia for what he hoped would be a sexual encounter with two 14 year-old girls he met on-line. Since his arrest in this case, SCHMIDT has been charged with molesting his granddaughter in Missouri and with arranging a similar sexual encounter with an underage girl in Florida.

“This case starkly illustrates how the Internet can expose our children not only to the predator down the street, but also to the would-be molester who lives hundreds of miles away. Thanks to the hard work of one of our local law enforcement partners, this particular offender will now be kept away from any other potential victims for many years to come,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.

“I think that it is great that this individual will be off the streets and out of our communities for quite some time. I am very proud of our Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit and the professionalism they displayed during this investigation. The teamwork utilized by all the agencies involved proved to be very instrumental in the successful prosecution of this case and is a shining example of what we can accomplish when we work in that capacity,” said Henry County Police Department Chief Keith Nichols.

United States District Court Judge William S. Duffey, Jr., sentenced SCHMIDT to 20 years in prison, to be followed by a lifetime of supervised release. SCHMIDT will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release from custody. SCHMIDT was arrested in June 2010 and pleaded guilty to the charges in April 2011.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In early 2010, SCHMIDT, while trolling in an on-line forum for kids, met whom he believed to be two 14 year-old girls but who were in fact undercover police officers. The two girls claimed to be friends and explained that they lived near each other in McDonough, Georgia. SCHMIDT and the girls had a series of mundane exchanges until SCHMIDT turned the conversation toward sexual topics. Over the ensuing months, in an effort to groom the girls for an eventual sexual encounter, SCHMIDT sent sexually explicit videos of himself, as well as images and videos of child pornography.

In June 2010, SCHMIDT made arrangements to drive from his home near St. Louis to a motel in McDonough, Georgia, where the two girls were to meet him for their sexual encounter. SCHMIDT was arrested in the parking lot of the motel in McDonough, carrying several guns, Klan paraphernalia, and an assortment of sex toys and supplies.

This case was investigated by the Henry County Police Department, with assistance from the FBI.

Assistant United States Attorney Robert McBurney prosecuted the case.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Seeking Information on Armed Robbery of Bank of America Branch in Pooler

Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin, FBI Atlanta, in conjunction with Chief Mark Revenew, Pooler Police Department, requests the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the man responsible for today’s (May 18) armed robbery of the Bank of America, 105 E. Highway 80, Pooler, Georgia.

On Wednesday, May 18, 2011, at approximately 10:10 a.m., a lone black male entered the Bank of America, located at 105 E. Highway 80, Pooler, Georgia, and announced a robbery. The robber, brandishing a weapon, obtained an undisclosed amount of money and departed the bank without further incident.

The robber is described as being a black male, mid-30s in age, medium build, slight facial hair, wearing a black shirt, blue jacket, and a black baseball cap with “Reebok” on front. A getaway vehicle was described as possibly being a gold box-style vehicle with possible Georgia license plate.



This individual is also believed to be responsible for the following area bank robberies:

* 4/8/2011, SunTrust Bank, 318 Mall Boulevard, Savannah, GA 31406
* 4/13/2011, Bank of America, 7802 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA 31406
* 4/25/2011, Wells Fargo National Bank, 6999 Abercorn Street, Savannah, GA

Anyone with information on this individual should contact the Savannah Crimestoppers at tel. (912) 234-2020 or the Atlanta FBI/Savannah Resident Agency at tel. (912) 232-3716.

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Monday, May 9, 2011

ATF Offers $5K Reward for Information on Retail Gun Theft

/PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Special Agent in Charge Gregory K. Gant of the Atlanta Field Division, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) today (May 5) announced ATF is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons responsible for the theft of firearms that occurred at Brother's Pawn Shop, 218 Alabama Ave., a federal firearms licensee in Bremen, GA. The burglary occurred on April 18.

"Firearms theft from licensed gun dealers is one of the top priorities for ATF. Experience shows us that these guns will likely end up being used in a crime. These guns in the hands of criminals endanger everyone's safety," said Gant. "With this reward, it is ATF's hope that someone will come forward with information that will lead to the arrest of the suspects responsible."

During the early morning hours of April 18, two individuals broke into the Brother's Pawn Shop by breaking out a wooden garage door panel on the side of the building. According to the surveillance video, the two individuals first attempted to break in through the front door, but were unsuccessful. After entering the shop, the surveillance video shows a heavy set male with a shaved head wearing camouflaged pants and a shirt with a horizontal stripe across the back.

ATF and the Bremen Police Department are seeking the public's assistance in identifying those responsible. Anyone with information is encouraged to call ATF at (404) 201-1127 or utilize the ATF Hotline at 1-800-ATF-GUNS (800-283-4867). Callers can remain anonymous.

More information about ATF and its programs is available at www.atf.gov.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

RIA Offers Tips for After the Tornadoes and Storms

Editor Note:  Our prayers are with the families of Georgia and Alabama as reports of damage and loss of life continue to come in.  

/PRNewswire/ -- With such a large area of the U.S. affected by the tornadoes and storms pummeling the country, the Restoration Industry Association (RIA) has these tips for individuals now working on cleaning up in the aftermath:

* Notify your insurance company of the loss.
* Keep a notebook to track dates and times of conversations with individuals pertaining to your claim.
* Save receipts for meals, hotels, toiletries, replacement clothing, prescriptions, etc.
* Take photos of each room for future reference and insurance claims. This will provide a digital inventory of some visible contents.
* If electrical appliances, including televisions and computers are damaged by water, do not turn them back on when power is restored. This can result in electric shock and/or do further damage to the appliance. Electronics can often be cleaned & restored by knowledgeable contractors.
* Drywall, insulation and carpeting/padding impacted by rain will probably need to be removed and replaced.
* Beware of scammers offering restoration services. Check references and visit the Restoration Industry Association website – www.restorationindustry.org – to find a contractor.
* Homeowners with appropriate insurance coverage may hire any restoration company they choose and are not limited to only those suggested by an insurer.
* Wear heavy rubber gloves or work gloves and thick-soled shoes, preferably not tennis shoes since there can be exposed nails, glass and other sharp objects.
* Wash your hands frequently – especially before touching your face or eating.
* Avoid cross contamination – don't wear dirty clothes or shoes to the clean or undamaged part of a structure.
* Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.
* Don't use bleach to disinfect since it is corrosive and can react with other substances. Use household disinfectants.
* Open windows to ventilate the area. Open drawers and cabinets for interior drying, but don't force them open.
* Remove standing water from flat surfaces by sponging and blotting.
* Hard surfaces can be disinfected as well as some soft goods, depending on washability.


For clean up tips, information on hiring a contractor, and restoration & remediation in general, visit the RIA website at www.restorationindustry.org and click on the Consumer link.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Business Owners Sentenced for Employing Illegal Aliens

PILI CHEN, 56, of Norcross, Georgia, who was both an employment agency owner and driver, was sentenced today (April 21) by United States District Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr. for recruiting and employing illegal aliens in Chinese restaurants, where they were provided housing and transportation to work. Today’s sentencing follows the January 2011 sentencings in a related case of owners and operators of a neighboring agency and a Chinese restaurant in the Atlanta area.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “These defendants not only broke the law by employing workers who were illegally in the United States, they exploited the workers by subjecting them to long shifts, substandard pay, and poor working conditions. As this case shows, we will hold employers responsible—including business owners and managers—who attempt to gain an unlawful economic advantage by hiring employees who are not permitted to be in the United States.”

“These sentencings send a clear message that there are real consequences for willfully recruiting and employing an illegal workforce,” said Brock Nicholson, Special Agent in Charge of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Atlanta. “Working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively target those who take advantage of illegal labor to make a profit.”

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said, “This case was the result of a joint FBI/ICE operation which shut down a network that not only recruited and employed illegal aliens but exploited their vulnerabilities. Human trafficking, no matter what the underlying purpose is for, is a process of systematically exploiting others for personal gain. The FBI remains committed in its endeavor of combating human trafficking in all of its many and varied forms, including alien smuggling.”

PILI CHEN, 56, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to one year and four months in prison to be followed by three years’ supervised release. On January 31, 2011, Judge Evans sentenced three defendants. AI LIN FU, 41, of Norcross, Georgia, was sentenced to one year and two months in prison. SAU TING CHENG, 42, of Duluth, Georgia, was sentenced to 10 months in prison and a $3,000 fine. LIANG FENG CHEN, 33, of Duluth, Georgia, was sentenced to two years’ probation, including three months of home confinement, and a $1,000 fine. FU, CHENG, and PILI CHEN’s prison sentences are to be followed by three years of supervised release.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: PILI CHEN and co-defendant XIAO PING LI, owned and operated an employment agency named “New Fuzhou” in Chamblee, Georgia, while AI LIN FU owned and operated a similar agency, “Zhong Mei Employment Agency,” in the same Chamblee shopping center.

The agencies obtained employment for illegal aliens, primarily undocumented Mexican workers, across the eastern United States. Neither agency required or requested any proof that the aliens had permission to be or work in the United States. They advertised in Chinese language newspapers and on the Internet. Employers called the agencies and requested workers for various jobs, usually in the kitchens of Chinese restaurants. The agencies charged the illegal aliens a commission and transportation fee to place them in the job and drive them there, and in some cases charged the restaurant owners, who deducted the fees from their illegal workers’ modest pay. FU’s husband and co-defendant, XIAN CHEN, operated Zhong Mei Employment Agency with FU and drove workers to the restaurants. PILI CHEN operated New Fuzhou with his wife XIAO PING LI, and also transported the workers. The employment agencies used paid drivers to minimize contact between the illegal aliens and the outside world, including law enforcement. XIAN CHEN fled to Canada after the indictment and has been ordered extradited to the United States. XIAO PING LI remains a fugitive.

SAU TING CHENG owned and operated a Chinese restaurant in Duluth, Georgia, named “Grand Buffet and Grill.” LIANG FENG CHEN was the manager at the restaurant. CHENG and CHEN hired illegal aliens through Zhong Mei Employment Agency. To better monitor the workers and shield them from detection, CHENG housed them at a nearby apartment complex and had them transported to and from work in 15-passenger vans. She also paid the workers in cash to avoid paying unemployment taxes. As the restaurant manager, CHEN participated in the pattern of hiring and employing the workers, knowing that the aliens were unauthorized to work in the United States, and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor for his more limited role in the scheme.

These cases were part of a larger operation in June 2010 that involved the separate indictments of the owners and drivers of four employment agencies at 3146 Chamblee Dunwoody Road and the administrative arrests of 39 illegal aliens associated with the agencies and restaurants.

This case was investigated by special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (HSI), Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Brian M. Pearce and Stephen H. McClain prosecuted the cases.

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

12-Year Old Peachtree City Girl Missing - Located

Right after posting that a 12-year old from Peachtree City was missing, we received word that the girl had been located. She's with the Peachtree City Police and GBI. More as we get news.

12-Year Old Peachtree City Girl Missing


Angela Isabella Borgmann                               Last Seen Wearing:

DOB: 05/18/98                                                Blue Jeans

5’ 4”                                                              Long Sleeve Burgundy Shirt

120 lbs                                                           Black T-Shirt on top with

Brown hair                                                     “Strangers Have the Best Candy” on it

Brown Eyes                                                   Carrying a blue “string” bag

The Peachtree City Police Department and the Georgia Bureau of Investigations are currently searching for the location of Angela Isabella Borgmann, a 12 year old white female who resides in Peachtree City, Georgia.

Angela was last seen wearing jeans, a long sleeve burgundy shirt with a short sleeve black shirt over the top. The black shirt had “Strangers Have the Best Candy” displayed on the front. She also had a blue “string” bag in her possession.

Angela was last seen on April 12, 2011 at Booth Middle School in Peachtree City, Georgia just prior to school starting. She does have a prior history of running away; however, never for periods of more than 6 hours. It is unknown if she is in danger.

Information has placed her with a young male, who is possibly around 20 years of age. The only information available on this male subject is the name “Luke”. Additionally, information has developed that possibly places her and Luke traveling in an unknown vehicle, possibly out of the state of Georgia.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Henry County Marijuana Grow House Operators Indicted; 10 Charged on Related Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crimes

The United States Attorney’s Office, along with the David G. Wilhelm Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Strike Force and the Henry County Police Department announce today (April 8) that 10 individuals have been indicted for alleged drug trafficking and firearms-related crimes stemming from their operation of marijuana grow houses in Henry County. This week, nine of the 10 defendants were arrested and arraigned in United States Magistrate Court for the Northern District of Georgia.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “Through the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force, the U.S. Attorney’s office works with local and state law enforcement agencies to target drug trafficking organizations that impact us locally and regionally. The federal prosecution of this organization for this conspiracy has a direct impact on the local community in Henry County, and regionally in the Northern District of Georgia, by making us all safer through the removal of dangerous grow houses from the community, and by having fewer drugs and guns on the streets.”

Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “The mission of DEA is unwavering—we combat drug trafficking organizations by investigating those who criminally distribute dangerous drugs which cause immeasurable damage to our communities. Today’s enforcement activity is a perfect example of the law enforcement community working together to remove violent criminals from our streets.”

Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols said, “I appreciate the hard work and dedication that our narcotics unit put into working this case. These indoor grows are a relatively new problem here in Henry County and we are becoming more familiar in working these types of cases. Getting these individuals out of our community is a huge benefit to our law abiding citizens, and I know they appreciate it too. I would also like to thank the federal law enforcement authorities that assisted us with this case, helping bring it to a successful resolution.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: In the fall of 2010, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies began investigating a marijuana grow house organization operating in Henry County and elsewhere. The organization allegedly coordinated the construction of hydroponic marijuana grow houses at four separate locations. Several members of the organization possessed firearms in support of the illegal narcotics trafficking activities. As part of the investigation, in November and December 2010, agents searched four separate marijuana grow house operations in Henry County that were constructed in residential homes with independent grow lighting, irrigation and nutrient systems designed to cultivate and grow marijuana plants for distribution. Agents also searched several of the residences of the defendants. Investigators found that three of the houses had been set up specifically as grow houses, and not to house residents. Those houses were located in Stockbridge, Georgia, at 925 Hemphill Road; 1680 Jodeco Road; and, 436 Hood Road. A fourth house, located at 166 Alexander Drive in McDonough, Georgia, was used as both a residence and a grow house. Items seized during the investigation include 340 plants of marijuana, 52 guns, at least 50 grams of methamphetamine, and over $384,000 in cash.

In March 2011, a federal grand jury returned a four-count indictment related to this grow house operation, which was unsealed on April 5, 2011, after the arrests. The indictment charges the defendants with various criminal offenses including conspiring to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute over 100 plants of marijuana; substantive drug trafficking charges; and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. Those arrested include:

* JOSHUA MCCULLOUGH, 37, of Stockbridge, Georgia;
* JIMMY RAY WHORTON, 56, of Stockbridge, Georgia;
* SANDRA WHORTON, 49, of Stockbridge, Georgia;
* JAMES MCKENZIE, 29, of McDonough, Georgia;
* KARRY AUTRY, 30, of McDonough, Georgia;
* HOLLY AUTRY, a/k/a “Holly Fritzius,” 27, of McDonough, Georgia;
* BRAIN PREWITT, 33, of Griffin, Georgia;
* PAUL BUNCH, 36, of Stockbridge, Georgia; and
* IRA BUTLER, 46, of Stockbridge, Georgia.

JOSEPH TILLMAN, 41, of Griffin, Georgia, remains at large. Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The investigation and prosecution of this case is a coordinated effort with the Henry County Police Department and the David G. Wilhelm OCDETF Strike Force, which is comprised of Special Agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the United States Marshal Service (USMS); and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), working with other state and local law enforcement agencies.

Special Assistant United States Attorney Michael Smith and Assistant United States Attorney Michael Brown are prosecuting the case.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fayetteville Police warn of new scam

The bleak job market has created a sense of desperation among many and a recent scam seeks to exploit that desperation. A Fayetteville man is out over $17,000 after responding to an on-line ad for employment.

The ad promised $1,000 for two weeks worth of research for an on-line concierge service. The Fayetteville victim completed the research and submitted his invoice for payment. He was requested to send his bank account information to the company to enable a direct deposit. He received a deposit of over $9,000 into his account a few days later.

He was then contacted, told he had accidentally been over paid and was asked to send $8,000 via Western Union to a person in Russia. Once the money was sent via Western Union, the money was immediately withdrawn from his bank account leaving him responsible for the original deposit plus the money he wired. The Fayetteville Police Department has issued the following advisement:

1) Do not respond to on-line or e-mailed ads from unknown or non established sources.

2) If you cannot meet your boss face to face, you do not want to work for them.

3) Never send money to anyone you do not know, PERIOD!

4) Check the Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org, the Internet Crime Complaint Center, www.ic3.gov, and Federal Trade Commission, ftc.gov websites for information about businesses and complaints.

5) If something seems to good to be true, it probably is.

The Fayetteville Police Department is still investigating the incident. If anyone has been a victim of this scam, they are encouraged to contact Detective Mike Whitlow at the Fayetteville Police Department, (770) 461-4441.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Fatal Armed Robbery Suspect Sought

Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin, FBI Atlanta, in conjunction with Dekalb County Police Chief W. O'Brien, requests the public's assistance in identifying and locating the individuals responsible for today's (March 15) armed robbery of a Garda Armored Car courier, which occurred in front of the Kroger Grocery Store, located in the Toco Hills Shopping Center, 2205 La Vista Road, Atlanta (Dekalb County), Georgia:

On Tuesday, March 15, 2011, at approximately 12:03 p.m., a gunman open fired on a Garda Armored Car courier while walking back to his truck, having serviced the Kroger Grocery Store, located at 2205 La Vista Road, Atlanta (Dekalb County), Georgia. The gunman approached the courier suddenly and shot him three times. The gunman, having obtained an undisclosed amount of money, then departed the scene in a vehicle being driven by another individual. That vehicle was recovered a short distance away from the scene and it was determined that the vehicle had been carjacked the day before in Snellville, Georgia. The critically wounded courier was transported to Grady Hospital where he later died. The gunman is described as being a black male, late 20's to early 30's in age, 5'11 in height, with a medium complexion.

Garda is offering a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for today's robbery and for the recovery of the stolen funds. Garda representatives stated "We are deeply saddened by the death of our colleague in today's incident and extend our condolences to his family. We are cooperating with law enforcement in investigating the incident and therefore cannot provide any additional details."

It is believed that today's violent armed robbery is connected to the following Atlanta area armored car robberies:

On Friday, January 21, 2011, at approximately 9:00 a.m., two couriers for the Loomis Armor Car were servicing an ATM located at a Wells Fargo bank, 4798 Redan Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia. One of the two couriers, while outside of their vehicle and servicing the machine, was suddenly approached and, without warning, fired on multiple times by an armed assailant.

The assailant was able to take the courier's bag containing an undisclosed amount of money. Witnesses observed the gunman jump into a late 1980s or early 1990s Jeep Cherokee, white in color, and depart the area. The gunman is described as being a black male, 20s to late 30s in age, 5'8" - 5'11" in height, medium build, medium complexion, slight facial hair, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and brandishing a black semi-automatic .40 caliber handgun. The driver of the getaway vehicle is described as being a black male, 20s to 30s in age wearing a light colored jacket with a fur collar.

The wounded courier was transported to a local area hospital, where he underwent surgery as a result of the multiple gunshot wounds. Wells Fargo has announced a reward in this matter of up to $10,000.

The above robbery is believed to be connected to a string of five previous armored car courier robberies within the Metro Atlanta area as listed below:

On Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at approximately 11:15 a.m., two couriers for Dunbar Armored Car were inside the Mall of Georgia, Gwinnett County, servicing an ATM. One of the couriers was approached suddenly from behind and forced to the ground by an armed assailant. The second courier, observing this, fired on the assailant as he was departing the mall through a side door.

On Monday, November 29, 2010, at approximately 9:00 a.m., a courier for a Loomis Armored Car was robbed at gunpoint while servicing an ATM at the Wells Fargo Bank, located at 3520 Centerville Highway, Snellville, Georgia.

The courier was approached from behind by a single robber who placed a semi-automatic handgun to the courier's head. The robber departed the area with an undisclosed amount of money and was seen getting into the back seat of a light blue or silver vehicle, described as being possibly a Buick, Oldsmobile, or Jaguar.

On November 11, 2010, a robbery of a Dunbar Armored courier occurred at the Bank of America, located at 1500 Buford Highway, Buford, Georgia. In that robbery, the courier was robbed while servicing an ATM at that location. The courier was approached from behind by two black male suspects brandishing handguns. One of the robbers was described as having a gold upper tooth. The robbers were seen departing that robbery in a blue Chevrolet Tahoe, which was recovered shortly after the robbery and was determined to have been reported stolen in Atlanta.

On October 7, 2010, a 1:00 p.m. robbery of a Dunbar Armored courier occurred inside of a Mex-America Latino store, located at 641 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta, Georgia. In that robbery, two black males, one with long black dreadlocks, waited inside of the above store for the courier to arrive. Upon arrival, the two robbers confronted the courier with handguns

On September 14, 2010, a robbery of a Garda Armored courier occurred at the Bank of America, located at 1775 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, Georgia. Two black males approached the courier while he was servicing an ATM at that location. Both robbers were brandishing semi-automatic handguns. During that robbery, the courier was forced to the ground and his sidearm was taken by the robbers.

Anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the Atlanta FBI at (404) 679-9000.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Former Senior U.S. District Judge Sentenced to One Month in Prison for Misuse of Government Property and Drug Offenses

Former Senior U.S. District Court Judge Jack T. Camp Jr., was sentenced today (March 11) in U.S. District Court in Atlanta to one month in prison for unlawful possession of controlled substances charges and unlawful conversion of government property, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division, Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office, and Director Vernon Keenan of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Camp, 67, a former Senior U.S. District Judge in the Northern District of Georgia, pleaded guilty in November 2010 to an information charging him with one count of unlawful possession of controlled substances, one count of aiding and abetting the unlawful possession of controlled substances by a previously convicted drug felon, and one count of conversion of government property. Camp was sentenced today in the Northern District of Georgia by Senior U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan for the District of Columbia. Judge Hogan was sitting by designation in the Northern District of Georgia.

As part of his plea, Camp admitted that between May 2010 and Oct. 1, 2010, he unlawfully used and possessed cocaine, marijuana, and Roxycodone, a Schedule II controlled substance. Camp also admitted to giving an individual, whom he knew had a prior felony drug conviction, money to purchase cocaine, Roxycodone and marijuana for their joint use. Camp admitted that he unlawfully gave the individual a U.S. District Court laptop computer for her personal use. Camp was arrested on Oct. 1, 2010, after attempting to purchase drugs from an undercover FBI agent posing as a drug dealer. Camp further resigned his commission as Senior U.S. District Judge. On Feb. 28, 2011, Camp voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law in the state of Georgia.

Camp was also sentenced to pay a $1,000 fine and $825 in restitution. He was sentenced to one year of supervised release.

The case was prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Deborah Sue Mayer and Tracee Joy Plowell of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case was investigated by the FBI Atlanta’s Public Corruption Squad. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation provided substantial assistance in this case.

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Former DeKalb Police Lieutenant Indicted for Bribery

WILLIE DAREN DURRETT, 45, of Atlanta, was arraigned today (March 7) before United States Magistrate Judge C. Christopher Hagy. DURRETT faces federal charges of accepting bribes in return for taking official action as a sergeant, and later as a lieutenant, with the DeKalb County Police Department. Co-defendant DONALD E. FRANK, who was previously indicted for accepting bribes while he served as deputy chief of police for DeKalb County, is also named in the indictment and faces the same charges. AMIN BUDHWANI previously pleaded guilty to paying bribes to FRANK.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “Our community expects and deserves police officers who will serve the citizens and not sell their badge to someone holding out cash. In this case, the officer placed his personal and financial interests ahead of the public he was sworn to serve. Combatting public corruption will continue to be a top priority for this office.”

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, “The FBI is fully prepared to undertake these types of public corruption investigations and fully understands the impact that these types of activities can have, if left unchecked, on the proper operation of a government or police agency. The public deserves better than the actions of this officer and is reminded that the FBI should be contacted with regard to any information involving police or government corruption.”

“I support the continued efforts of federal authorities to efface public corruption,” said DeKalb County Police Chief William O’Brien. “Willie Durrett resigned from the DeKalb County Police Department weeks before this indictment and prior to our agency having the opportunity to take disciplinary action. It is reprehensible that this former lieutenant chose to violate the law instead of upholding it. It is acts such as this that undermine law enforcement's efforts to maintain public trust.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: DURRETT accepted bribes from BUDHWANI on three separate occasions in 2007 and 2008. DURRETT resigned this past Monday.

Each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.00. In determining the actual sentence, the court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.

DURRETT and FRANK were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 1, 2011. BUDHWANI was indicted by a federal grand jury on May 18, 2010, and pleaded guilty on June 1, 2010.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment only contains charges. The defendants are presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove the defendants’ guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case is being investigated by special agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Macon Man Receives Life Sentence for Seeking Sex with 7-Year-Old Girl

RUSSELL E. WORSHAM, 44, of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced today by United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester to serve the rest of his life in federal prison on the charge of using the Internet to attempt to entice a child to engage in sexual activity.

"This defendant trolled the Internet searching for child victims," said Sally Quillian Yates, United States Attorney. "His conduct was more than mere words. A brave victim testified during trial that from the time she was 9 until she was 12, this dangerous predator repeatedly sexually assaulted her. On the day of his arrest, the defendant intended to rape a 7-year-old girl. But for the hard work of the investigators, the defendant likely would still be out there, searching for his next victim. Today's sentence serves as a stern warning to those who might follow in this defendant's path. This office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute those who use the Internet to victimize children."

Brian D. Lamkin, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office, stated, "The FBI has, over the years, dedicated many investigative resources to child exploitation matters such as this through its Innocent Images and Crimes Against Children programs, with the overall goal of protecting young, vulnerable children from those who would exploit them and do them harm. Mr. Worsham is a child predator who will no longer be in a position to harm children and the FBI is proud of the role it played in removing this individual from our streets."

WORSHAM was sentenced to life in prison. WORSHAM was convicted of these charges on September 21, 2010, after a five-day trial.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: In October 2008, WORSHAM befriended a woman online whom he believed to have a 7-year-old daughter. This woman—actually an undercover FBI task force agent—told WORSHAM that she was willing to make her fictitious daughter available to WORSHAM for sex. Over the next three months, in hours of online chats, over two dozen e-mails, and five telephone calls, WORSHAM engaged in graphic and sexually explicit conversations about his planned rape of the 7-year-old girl. These online communications and telephone conversations culminated in WORSHAM arranging to meet with the mother and her 7-year-old daughter. Agents arrested him when he showed up for the meeting. Agents recovered crayons, a spanking tool, a web camera, a studded dog collar, and virtual child pornography from WORSHAM's van. During trial, a victim testified that when she was between the ages of 9 and 12, WORSHAM had repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

This case was investigated by agents and officers of the Atlanta Safe Child Task Force, which is led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Atlanta Division.

Assistant United States Attorneys Kim S. Dammers and Ryan Scott Ferber prosecuted the case.

This case is being 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 www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Polk County Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Operating a Chop Shop

JOHNNY LEE SUMMERVILLE, 61, of Cedartown, Georgia, was sentenced today (March 1) by United States District Judge Harold L. Murphy on charges that he operated a chop shop, removed and altered vehicle identification numbers on motor vehicles, possessed motor vehicles with altered and removed vehicle identification numbers, and possessed a controlled substance with the intent to distribute. SUMMERVILLE was sentenced to serve five years in federal prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. SUMMERVILLE was also ordered to pay restitution totaling $191,264.88. In connection with the drug conviction, the court imposed a $200,000 forfeiture money judgment.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "Under the guise of operating a legitimate auto salvage business, this defendant bought and sold stolen motor vehicles and heavy equipment. By doing so, he provided incentive to thieves who would steal motor vehicles and heavy equipment with knowledge that they could sell the stolen vehicles and equipment to the defendant. The Safe Streets Task Force of Northwest Georgia will continue to address the problem of vehicle thefts in Northwest Georgia by investigating and prosecuting individuals who operate chop shops like the defendant did. The sentence handed down today reflects the serious nature of this offense."

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between January 2001 and October 6, 2009, SUMMERVILLE operated a chop shop at his junk yard located at 3870 Collard Valley Road, Cedartown, Georgia, and would, from time to time, obtain motor vehicles that he knew were stolen. He would then purchase a wrecked or salvage vehicle that was close to the same make, model, and year as the stolen vehicle, but that had a clear title, and would remove the VIN from the salvage vehicle. To conceal that the stolen vehicle was in fact stolen, he replaced the stolen car's VIN with the VIN plate from the wrecked or salvage vehicle. Then he sold the stolen vehicle with the "clear" VIN to a buyer who believed that there was a clear title for the vehicle. SUMMERVILLE also carried out the same VIN-swapping scheme with regard to stolen heavy equipment.

SUMMERVILLE was the subject of an undercover investigation conducted by the members of the Safe Streets Task Force of Northwest Georgia. During the undercover investigation, the informant and an undercover police officer purchased a stolen vehicle and a stolen piece of heavy equipment from SUMMERVILLE. The informant also reported that SUMMERVILLE was distributing a controlled substance at his business. On two occasions the informant and the undercover agent bought from SUMMERVILLE quantities of Dihydrocodeinone, which is a Schedule III controlled substance.

On October 6, 2009, federal, state, and local law enforcement officers with the Safe Streets Task Force of Northwest Georgia executed a search warrant at Summerville's business During the execution of the search warrant, the officers located and seized numerous stolen motor vehicles and heavy equipment. The officers also seized a number of other motor vehicles and heavy equipment with VIN plates that were either altered or removed.

On December 9, 2010, SUMMERVILLE pleaded guilty to one count of operating a chop shop and one count of distributing a controlled substance.

The investigation was conducted by law enforcement officers with the Safe Streets Task Force of Northwest Georgia, which is comprised of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Police Department, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, and the Bartow County Drug Task Force. Special Agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and police officers with the Floyd County Police Department assisted in the investigation.

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Georgia Man Sentenced to Prison on Federal Drug Charges

A member of a sophisticated drug ring operating in the Huntington, West Virginia area was sentenced yesterday in federal court. Kenneth "Kid" Pertillo, 27, of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced by United States District Judge Robert C. Chambers to 46 months in prison for possession with intent to distribute a quantity of cocaine base. On June 12, 2009, officers with the Huntington Police Department arrested Pertillo and Thomaas "30" Redding for traffic violations in the 2200 block of Artisan Avenue in Huntington. After finding illegal drugs in the car, officers arrested Pertillo and Redding. During a strip search at the police station, Pertillo removed a bag containing more than five grams of cocaine base from his body. He also carried in his pockets $1,507 in cash which included 51 $20 bills.

The long-term, multi-state investigation revealed that by working together in a relatively sophisticated drug distribution organization, members enjoyed increased profits from their illegal drug sales. Through their coordinated efforts of buying drugs in larger quantities for resale, the drug ring was able to widen their customer base and increase their market share in the Huntington area.

The investigation further revealed that group members recruited others from their hometown of Macon, Georgia to relocate to Huntington to sell drugs with the promise of higher profits. They manufactured powder cocaine into crack cocaine, trained new arrivals in local crack pricing and portioning, used counter-surveillance techniques to avoid detection by law enforcement, provided financial assistance to retain defense attorneys and post bond for incarcerated members, arranged for storage of drugs and firearms in the homes of local residents, paid local addicts with crack to rent cars for trips out-of-state to resupply the group with drugs, shared handguns for use while dealing drugs, and other actions which increased the effectiveness of the group.

In all, the drug ring members and their associates received sentences totaling 1,072 months, or almost 90 years, collectively. Pertillo's co-defendants were previously sentenced for their roles: Charles "Goldie" Williams—136 months in prison; Nekoase "Shadow/Fly" Vinson—168 months in prison; Thomaas "30" Redding—69 months in prison; and Antonio "T.O." Whitehead—108 months in prison. Other conspiracy members and associates were previously convicted under separate indictments, including Maurice "Edith" Dugger—85 months; SylVester "Twin" Dugger—150 months; SylEster Dugger—95 months; Jennifer "J-Lo" Ferrell—33 months; Mark King—108 months; Robin Bailey—84 months; and Lisa Bailey—36 months.

The investigation was conducted by the Huntington Drug and Violent Crime Task Force, Huntington Police Department, West Virginia State Police, WVSP Forensic Laboratory, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Lawrence County (Ohio) Drug Task Force, Ohio State Highway Patrol, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification & Investigation, Cabell County Sheriff's Department, and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

APS Healthcare Pays $13 Million to Settle False Claims Act Case

The United States Attorney’s Office today (February 22) announced that “INNOVATIVE RESOURCES GROUP, LLC,” doing business as “APS HEALTHCARE MIDWEST,” of White Plains, New York, has reached a $13 million settlement with the United States and the state of Georgia to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act. The United States’ share of the settlement is $5.2 million. The government alleges that APS Healthcare submitted false claims to Medicaid through the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) because it did not provide specialty services related to disease management and case management to members of the Georgia Medicaid Management Program (GAMMP) during the period from September 1, 2007 through February 28, 2010.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the settlement, “In this time of tight budgets and rising health care costs, the state of Georgia tried to improve its services to its Medicaid recipients by contracting with APS Healthcare. But instead of providing improved efficiency and effectiveness the company billed for, APS Healthcare took Medicaid’s money for itself and left some of our most vulnerable citizens without the aid they deserved.”

“Investigating Medicaid grant fraud is an important priority, because it diverts desperately needed resources from those who need it most,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson, Health & Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Atlanta Region.

“This substantial recovery of taxpayer dollars is attributable to the continued strong partnership between state and federal law enforcement agencies in the fight against health care fraud and abuse,” said Scott Smeal, Georgia Senior Assistant Attorney General. “This case should send a strong message to companies such as APS Healthcare that they will be held fully accountable when they fail to provide the services they promised to provide to Medicaid patients.”

Under the GAMMP contract, APS Healthcare agreed to provide case and disease management services to Georgia Medicaid recipients and was paid a monthly fee for each member receiving such services. The government contends that APS Healthcare failed to provide the required services to a large portion of the Medicaid recipients and over-billed the Georgia Department of Community Health in its monthly invoices.

APS Healthcare has executed a Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, which will require an aggressive compliance program. The Corporate Integrity Agreement requires, among other things, intensive training and implementation of policies and procedures designed to ensure compliance with federal health care program requirements. In addition, APS Healthcare will be subject to external review of its compliance with state Medicaid contracts. If APS Healthcare fails to comply with certain material terms of the CIA, the company is subject to monetary penalties and exclusion from federal health care programs, including Medicare and Medicaid.

The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which allow private citizens to bring civil actions on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery. The case, pending in the Northern District of Georgia, is filed under United States ex rel. Michael Claeys and State of Georgia ex rel. Michael Claeys v. APS Healthcare, Inc., APS Healthcare Bethesda, Inc., and Innovative Resource Group, LLC d/b/a/ APS Healthcare Midwest, 1:09-cv-2779-WSD.

This civil investigation was conducted by special agents of the FBI and HHS-OIG.

The civil settlement was reached by Assistant United States Attorneys Christopher J. Huber and Lena Amanti.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Flood Safety Day: Prepare for the Number One Weather-Related Killer

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign urges families to prepare for flood emergencies on Feb. 11, the final day of Severe Weather Awareness Week

Georgians know the toll that flooding can take on a community after record floods in September 2009 caused 10 deaths and $500 million of damage to homes and businesses. In the United States, floods are the most common severe weather emergency and the number two weather-related killer. Governor Nathan Deal and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security urge residents to learn the tools and resources necessary to manage floods during Flood Safety Day, Friday, Feb. 11, the final day of Severe Weather Awareness Week.

“Seven people lost their lives in our county during the 2009 floods,” said Jason Milhollin, Emergency Management Director for Douglas County. “Most of them were swept off the roads while driving through heavy rain, but had they been better informed about the weather and at-risk areas near their homes, most could have avoided danger.”

More than half of flood victims are in vehicles swept away by moving water, and just six inches of fast-moving water can knock a person down. In Georgia, many communities experience some kind of flooding after spring rains or heavy thunderstorms, but dam failures can also cause some of the worst flooding events. Floods can be slow or fast rising, but generally develop over a period of days.

Flash floods, however, usually result from intense storms dropping large amounts of rain within a brief period. They occur with little or no warning and can reach full peak in only a few minutes. Communities particularly at risk are those located in low-lying areas, near water or downstream from a dam.

Though floods can occur without much warning, there are steps that any household can take to prepare and minimize property damage, injury or even the threat of death. GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign offers this information to help you prepare, plan and stay informed about floods:

Prepare for Flooding

  • Know your area's flood risk – if unsure, call your local emergency management agency.
  • Create an emergency supplies kit and prepare a portable Ready kit in case you have to evacuate.
  • Reduce potential flood damage by raising your furnace, water heater and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
  • Property insurance does not typically cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage. The National Flood Insurance Program is designed to provide reasonable flood insurance in exchange for the careful management of flood-prone areas by local communities. The program, administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is available in hundreds of participating Georgia communities. Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information.

Plan to Evacuate

  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
  • If you have a car, fill the gas tank. If you do not have a car, plan alternate means of evacuating.
  • Move your furniture and valuables to higher floors of your home.

Stay Informed about Flooding

  • If it has been raining hard for several hours, or steadily raining for several days, be alert to the possibility of a flood.
  • Closely monitor a local radio station, TV station or NOAA Weather Radio for flood information.
  • Follow the instructions of local officials. If advised to evacuate, do so immediately.
  • Do not drive around barricades. They are there for your safety.
  • Never drive through standing water. It only takes two feet of water to float a full-sized automobile.
  • Move to higher ground away from rivers, streams, creeks and storm drains.
  • Stay out of floodwaters if possible. The water may be contaminated or electrically charged. However, if your car stalls in rapidly rising waters, get out immediately and seek higher ground.
  • Stay away from downed power lines to avoid the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Do not return to your home until local authorities say it is safe. Even after floodwaters recede, roads and bridges may be weakened and could collapse. Buildings may be unstable, and drinking water may be contaminated. Use common sense and exercise caution.

The state’s emergency preparedness campaign, Ready Georgia, offers families a free, interactive online tool that takes the guesswork out of getting prepared. By visiting www.ready.ga.gov, families can take less than an hour to enter pertinent information and get a customized family communications plan and emergency supply checklist.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Ready Georgia is giving residents the chance to win a NOAA Weather Radio and Ready kit, a $100 value, courtesy of The Home Depot. From Feb. 7-11, visit Ready Georgia’s Facebook page and click on the “Contests” tab. Then, enter the contest by simply submitting a severe weather photo and a step you have taken to prepare.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

“Seaside Partners Fund” General Partner Sentenced to Prison for Investment Fraud

ROBERT L. DUNCAN, 49, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced to prison today by United States District Judge Charles A. Pannell, Jr. on a charge of wire fraud in connection with an investment scheme through his company, “Seaside Partners Fund,” which was based in Atlanta.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, “This is another case of a financial predator who has defrauded individuals of millions in savings. As part of the President’s Financial Fraud Task Force, it will remain a focus of our mission to root out and address these crimes and to help instill a measure of confidence in our financial system.”

DUNCAN was sentenced to four years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release, and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $3,839,751. DUNCAN pleaded guilty to the charge on September 23, 2010. The Court determined that DUNCAN has already paid back approximately $226,473.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: From January 2005 to March 2010, DUNCAN convinced several local investors to allow him to invest approximately $4 million of their money, falsely telling them that their funds were in individual capital accounts and invested through licensed securities brokers. The investors transferred their funds to DUNCAN’s investment program, known as “Seaside Partners Fund,” after he falsely represented that their principal would be held for their benefit in individual capital accounts and invested by licensed securities brokers. DUNCAN periodically furnished his investors with fraudulently altered account statements, which falsely showed that their investments were doing well, when in fact, DUNCAN was using their investment principal for his own business and personal expenses. The Criminal Information charges DUNCAN with wire fraud for causing the investors’ funds to be electronically transferred in interstate commerce to execute his scheme to defraud.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Atlanta District Office of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission has conducted a separate civil investigation and referred this case for prosecution.

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Monday, January 31, 2011

Georgia Man Sentenced to Life in Prison for Child Sex Abuse Offenses

Dwain D. Williams, age 37, a resident of Pelham, Georgia, was sentenced today (January 28) before the Honorable W. Louis Sands, United States District Court Judge for the Middle District of Georgia, to life in prison for child sex abuse offenses, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and United States Attorney Michael J. Moore of the Middle District of Georgia.

Williams was convicted on Aug. 19, 2010, by a federal jury in Valdosta, Georgia, of one count of traveling in foreign commerce and engaging in illicit sexual conduct, one count of aggravated sexual abuse and one count of abusive sexual contact of a child under 12 years of age. The aggravated sexual abuse and the abusive sexual contact charges were committed while Williams was accompanying a member of the Armed Forces outside of the United States in violation of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA).

At trial, the female victim testified that Williams had repeatedly raped her starting from when she was nine years old until she was 13.

“The law, not to mention human decency, demands that we protect innocent children, whether they be here or abroad, from predators like Mr. Williams”, said United States Attorney Moore.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice. Led by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.projectsafechildhood.gov.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Leah McEwen of the Middle District of Georgia and Trial Attorney Mi Yung Park of the Criminal Division’s CEOS. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of Special Investigations for Moody Air Force.

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Doctor Sentenced for Providing False Information to Federal Officer

Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia announces that on January 27, 2011, Bradford G. Brown, M.D., was sentenced to serve thirty-six (36) months in prison and a $500.00 Mandatory Assessment Fee by the Honorable Judge Lawson in United States District Court in Macon, Georgia.

Brown was convicted by a Federal Jury of his peers on September 23, 2010. He was found guilty of one count of Conspiracy to Provide False Information to a Federal Officer, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 in connection with Section 1001. Brown was also convicted of four counts of Providing False Information to a Federal Officer, Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001.

Dr. Brown had previously been convicted of Federal Tax Evasion, had served his time and was on supervised release. One of the conditions of supervised release was that he look for and maintain a job. The Defendant’s supervised release had previously been revoked for his failure to look for employment. The revocation was for three months before Brown was placed back on supervised release. Brown still failed to look for a job and was told he was going to go back in front of the Court for a second possible violation. The Defendant enlisted Adam Jackson, a former Hancock County Commissioner, on two different occasions to sign off on two letters the Defendant himself had penned stating that the Hancock County Board of Commissioners had offered him a job to reopen the defunct County Hospital. (Jackson was a Hancock County Board member). The Defendant then sent those letters along with a employment contract that he had also penned to his probation officer which provided the false statements that he had been offered a position with the Hancock County Board of Commissioners when in fact, there was no position or offer ever extended to Brown. The second letter was sent about a month after the first letter with an even more elaborate false statement than the first letter. Brown claimed that by a unanimous vote by the Commissioners he had been offered the position, when in fact, there was no vote, no position, and no offer of employment.

Brown’s co-defendant, former Hancock County Commissioner Adam Jackson, entered a plea of guilty to Count One of Conspiracy to Provide False Statements and was sentenced to serve 24 month in prison on November 22, 2010.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Severe Weather Awareness Week a Time to Prepare for Remainder of Year

GEMA’s Ready Georgia campaign helps residents prepare for a variety of natural disasters

Georgia has already experienced its first taste of severe weather in 2011 – a snowstorm that affected 70 percent of the state. With that in our collective memory, the governor and the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA)/Homeland Security encourage all Georgians to participate in this year’s Severe Weather Awareness Week, Feb. 7-11, by turning to the state’s Ready Georgia campaign.

“Take time now to prepare for the extreme weather the rest of the year can bring,” said Charley English, director of GEMA/Homeland Security. “Tornadoes, storms and floods can devastate our communities, but devastation can be minimized if we’re prepared.”

The week’s activities begin with Family Preparedness Day on Feb. 7, when all Georgia households are encouraged to program their NOAA Weather Radios and create Ready Profiles at www.ready.ga.gov to get a customized checklist of emergency supplies and a tailored family communications plan.

On Wednesday, when tornado safety is emphasized, a statewide tornado drill will be issued by the National Weather Service. Severe Weather Awareness Week’s specific observations are:

Monday, Feb. 7 – Family Preparedness/NOAA Weather Radio Day
Tuesday, Feb. 8 – Thunderstorm Safety
Wednesday, Feb. 9 – Tornado Safety and Statewide Tornado Drill (issued by NWS)
Thursday, Feb. 10 – Lightning Safety
Friday, Feb. 11 – Flood Safety (alternate tornado drill date)

"By preparing for one emergency, you are actually arming yourself against many types of disasters," continued English. “Our goal is for all residents to be their own first responders and to be able to help others in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.”

During severe weather, emergency workers might need at least 72 hours to open roadways and restore utilities. When Georgians are prepared to survive independently, the potential for tragic outcomes is greatly reduced. GEMA offers this information from its Ready Georgia campaign:

Prepare for Severe Weather:

Make a Ready kit of emergency supplies for your home, car and office. Most of the recommended items are inexpensive and easy to find, and any one of them could save your life.

- Water: at least three gallons per person for drinking and sanitation
- Food: at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Manual can opener if kit contains canned food
- Battery-powered or hand crank NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Face mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Local maps
- Specific items for children, family members’ special needs or pets
- Cash or travelers checks
- Important documents in a waterproof container
- Blankets and warm clothes

Plan for Severe Weather:

- Be sure every family member knows important phone numbers for schools, offices, home and emergency services.
- Identify an out-of town contact. It might be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call in town, so an out-of-town contact is in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
- Identify a meeting place near your home where family members can meet if separated during severe weather.
- Identify a meeting place away from your home where family members can meet if your neighborhood in not accessible.
- Map out evacuation routes in case you are ordered to evacuate, and always keep at least a fourth of a tank of gas in your car.
- Know your insurance policies and whether your home is in a flood zone.

Stay Informed about Severe Weather:

- Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond.
- Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
- Familiarize yourself with the terms that are used to identify severe weather, such as advisories, watches and warnings.
- Monitor NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, television and the Internet to stay informed of severe weather conditions.

During Severe Weather Awareness Week, Ready Georgia is also giving residents the chance to win their very own Ready kit and NOAA Weather Radio, a $100 value. Starting Feb. 7, visit Ready Georgia’s Facebook page and click on the “Contests” tab. Then, enter the contest by simply submitting a severe weather photo and a step you have taken to prepare.

For more information on preparing for severe weather, contact your local EMA or visit www.ready.ga.gov or www.gema.ga.gov.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Former Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy Sentenced to Prison for Corruption and Drug Charges

ANTHONY C. ATWATER, 33, of Atlanta, Georgia, was sentenced today (January 24) by United States District Judge J. Owen Forrester to serve six years in federal prison on corruption and drug charges.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said, "While dressed in his uniform, this former law enforcement officer sold out his badge to people he knew as drug dealers, and chose to protect them rather than the citizens. Any sworn officer who thinks they can abandon their oath and become a criminal in police clothing should know this: Your betrayal makes you a criminal ready for federal prison."

FBI Atlanta Special Agent in Charge Brian D. Lamkin said, "Having the public's trust is paramount in order for the criminal justice system to work effectively. It is for this reason that the FBI makes such public corruption matters a priority. While the public can be reassured that the vast majority of law enforcement personnel do uphold their sworn oaths of office with great vigor, those that choose to stray down a similar path as that of Atwater can expect a similar fate."

IRS-Criminal Investigation Special Agent in Charge Reginael D. McDaniel said of the case, "Public Safety Officers hold positions of trust in the eyes of the public and violation of this trust can send damaging ripple effects throughout the community. Today's sentencing demonstrates the government s determination to restore and ensure that trust."

ATWATER was sentenced to six years in prison to be followed by four years of supervised release, and ordered to perform 80 hours of community service. ATWATER pleaded guilty to the charges on July 21, 2010.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: On two occasions in 2010, ATWATER provided protection for what he believed to be multi-kilogram cocaine deals. For each deal, ATWATER agreed to protect the people he thought were drug dealers in exchange for $2,000. On both of those occasions, ATWATER was on duty, in uniform, and in his marked police vehicle when he provided the protection. ATWATER's participation in each of these two drug transactions forms the basis for both the corruption and the drug charges.

At today's sentencing hearing, prosecutors told the Court that after ATWATER's arrest, Special Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated a report that ATWATER illegally searched the home of a Fulton County resident while driving a marked Fulton County Sheriff's Department vehicle and wearing a Fulton County Sheriff's Department uniform. ATWATER incorrectly told the resident that he had an arrest warrant for an individual inside of the residence. However, he refused to show the arrest warrant to the resident upon request. ATWATER then proceeded to enter and search the residence and again refused to show or leave a copy of the purported arrest warrant with the resident as he left the residence.

This case was investigated by Special Agents of Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Armored Car Robbery in Stone Mountain

Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Brian D. Lamkin, FBI Atlanta, requests the public’s assistance in identifying and locating the individuals responsible for today’s (January 21) armed robbery of a Loomis Armored Car courier, which occurred at the Wells Fargo Bank, 4798 Redan Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia.

On Friday, January 21, 2011, at approximately 9:00 a.m., two couriers for the Loomis Armor Car were servicing an ATM located at a Wells Fargo bank, 4798 Redan Road, Stone Mountain, Georgia. One of the two couriers, while outside of their vehicle and servicing the machine, was suddenly approached and, without warning, fired on multiple times by an armed assailant.

The assailant was able to take the courier’s bag containing an undisclosed amount of money. Witnesses observed the gunman jump into a late 1980s or early 1990s Jeep Cherokee, white in color, and depart the area. The gunman is described as being a black male, 20s to late 30s in age, 5’8” -5’11” in height, medium build, medium complexion, slight facial hair, wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, blue jeans, and brandishing a black semi automatic .40 caliber handgun. The driver of the getaway vehicle is described as being a black male, 20s to 30s in age wearing a light colored jacket with a fur collar.

The wounded courier was transported to a local area hospital where he underwent surgery as a result of the multiple gunshot wounds. Wells Fargo has announced a reward in this matter of up to $10,000.

The above robbery is believed to be connected to a string of five previous armored car courier robberies within the Metro Atlanta area as listed below:

On Tuesday, December 7, 2010, at approximately 11:15 a.m., two couriers for Dunbar Armored Car were inside the Mall of Georgia, Gwinnett County, servicing an ATM. One of the couriers was approached suddenly from behind and forced to the ground by an armed assailant. The second courier, observing this, fired on the assailant as he was departing the mall through a side door.

On Monday, November 29, 2010, at approximately 9:00 a.m., a courier for a Loomis Armored Car was robbed at gunpoint while servicing an ATM at the Wells Fargo Bank, located at 3520 Centerville Highway, Snellville, Georgia.

The courier was approached from behind by a single robber who placed a semi automatic handgun to the courier’s head. The robber departed the area with an undisclosed amount of money and was seen getting into the back seat of a light blue or silver vehicle, described as being possibly a Buick, Oldsmobile, or Jaguar.

On November 11, 2010, a robbery of a Dunbar Armored courier occurred at the Bank of America, located at 1500 Buford Highway, Buford, Georgia. In that robbery, the courier was robbed while servicing an ATM at that location. The courier was approached from behind by two black male suspects brandishing handguns. One of the robbers was described as having a gold upper tooth. The robbers were seen departing that robbery in a blue Chevrolet Tahoe, which was recovered shortly after the robbery and was determined to have been reported stolen in Atlanta.

On September 14, 2010, a robbery of a Garda Armored courier occurred at the Bank of America, located at 1775 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, Georgia. Two black males approached the courier while he was servicing an ATM at that location. Both robbers were brandishing semi auto handguns. During that robbery, the courier was forced to the ground and his sidearm was taken by the robbers.

On October 7, 2010, a 1:00 p.m. robbery of a Dunbar Armored courier occurred inside of a Mex-America Latino store, located at 641 South Marietta Parkway, Marietta, Georgia. In that robbery, two black males, one with long black dreadlocks, waited inside of the above store for the courier to arrive. Upon arrival, the two robbers confronted the courier with handguns.

Anyone with information regarding this matter should contact the Atlanta office FBI at tel. (404) 679-9000.

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Friday, January 21, 2011

Operation Spider Web Snags Cocaine, Meth, and Weapons; Fifteen Indicted on Related Drug Trafficking and Firearms Crimes

In the past 24 hours, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), have concluded search and arrest actions in Cobb County and today (January 20), with the United States Attorney’s Office, announce that 15 individuals have been indicted for alleged drug trafficking and firearms-related crimes stemming from the large-scale investigation, code-named Operation Spider Web.

United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the takedown and the case, “The U.S. Attorney's office targets the largest drug trafficking organizations in the district, so that we can reduce the drug trafficking and violence not only in the state of Georgia but the other parts of the country that these organizations touch. Operation Spider Web involves 15 defendants who are alleged to have distributed cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana using tire stores as fronts, and tires as drug packaging. The takedown of this case has a direct impact on the community to make Atlanta safer, with less drugs and fewer guns on the streets.”

“Georgia residents can sleep better tonight knowing that an organized criminal ring has been hit,” said Brock Nicholson, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office overseeing Georgia and the Carolinas. “This case demonstrates yet again how law enforcement in Atlanta is committed to working together to disrupt and dismantle criminal networks.”

Rodney G. Benson, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA Atlanta Field Division said, “DEA and its law enforcement counterparts orchestrated a well-planned and coordinated assault against a high-level, poly-drug distribution network. Because of the unified effort between DEA and its law enforcement counterparts, this organization will no longer be able to wreak havoc on our community.”

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Special Agent in Charge, Gregory K. Gant said, “The mission of ATF is unwavering—we fight violent crime by investigating and prosecuting those who criminally use firearms that cause immeasurable damage to our communities. Today's enforcement activity is a perfect example of the law enforcement community working together to remove these violent criminals from its streets.”

Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren, on behalf of the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Organized Crime Intelligence Task Force (MCS), said, “We often work in conjunction with other local, state and federal agencies in order to maximize our resources in combating illegal activity in our community. These cooperative efforts, especially in the metro area, are especially effective in letting the criminal element know we are all serious about protecting and serving the citizens in our jurisdictions. Job well done.”

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges, and other information presented in court: In May 2009, federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies began investigating a drug trafficking organization operating in the metro-Atlanta area and elsewhere. The organization allegedly coordinated the receipt and distribution of cocaine, methamphetamine, and marijuana throughout Atlanta and elsewhere, using firearms in furtherance of its illegal activities. The indictment alleges that members of the organization hid, transported, and stored illegal drugs and drug money inside of tires that were then either placed on or inside drug delivery vehicles.

As part of today's takedown, agents searched two tires shops, “Alex Tires and Rims” in Marietta, Georgia, and “Emmy Tires” in Griffin, Georgia. Both tire shops were allegedly operated by SANTIAGO VILLANUEVA PINEDA. Agents also executed three search warrants, including at the tire businesses used by the criminal organization as fronts for its illegal activities. Today’s takedown ensnared 13 defendants, with the arrest of eight additional individuals on state drug charges or for immigration offenses. Items seized during the takedown included 22 guns, several kilograms of cocaine and methamphetamine, a meth lab, over $30,000 in cash, and several vehicles. Those seizures supplement the approximately $1,000,000, 75 kilograms of cocaine, over 11 pounds of methamphetamine, 16 firearms, and two grenade hulls already seized in the investigation.

Earlier this week, a federal grand jury returned a 10-count indictment related to “Operation Spider Web,” which was unsealed today with the arrests. The indictment charges the defendants with various criminal offenses including conspiring to traffic over five kilograms of cocaine, over 100 kilograms of marijuana, and over 500 grams of methamphetamine; substantive drug trafficking charges; and possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes:

SANTIAGO VILLANUEVA PINEDA, a/k/a “Alex,” 36, of Marietta, Georgia;
RAMIRO ALVARADO GONZALEZ, a/k/a “Mori,” a/k/a “Moreno,” 25, of Marietta, Georgia;
JAMES TORRES, a/k/a “El Gordo,” 28, of Marietta, Georgia;
TARSICIO BRAVO-CARBAJAL, a/k/a “Chicho,” a/k/a “Chucho,” 53, of Marietta, Georgia;
BERNALDO MOLINA-CARDENAS, a/k/a “Berna,” 49, of Marietta, Georgia;
ELEAZAR AGUIRRE RIVERA, 27, of Cartersville, Georgia;
JUVENTINO BAZA, 43, of Marietta, Georgia;
PABLO GARCIA, a/k/a “Enrique Farias,” 34, of Cartersville, Georgia;
WILBER AVALOS PEREZ, 36, of Smyrna, Georgia;
JOSE CARLOS SOTO-PINEDA, a/k/a “Pedro Mendoza,” 29, of Sandy Springs, Georgia;
JOSE PATINO-CHAVEZ, a/k/a “Markos Jaimes,” 38, of Marietta, Georgia;
ISAIAS MONDRAGON, a/k/a “Fat Boy,” 30, of Powder Springs, Georgia;
NARCISO FLORES-ORTIZ, a/k/a “Chicho,” 33, of Smyrna, Georgia;
GREGORY EARL HARRISON, 40, of Marietta, Georgia; and
CHADWICK HUDSPETH, 41, of Atlanta, Georgia.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

The investigation and prosecution of this case is a coordinated effort through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, which is comprised of special agents of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security Investigations (ICE-HSI); the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI); the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF); the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); and the Marietta-Cobb-Smyrna Organized Crime Intelligence Task Force (MCS), which is comprised of officers from Cobb County Sheriff's Office, Cobb County Police Department, Marietta Police Department, Smyrna Police Department, Kennesaw Police Department, Acworth Police Department, and Powder Springs Police Department, along with the Cobb County District Attorney's Office.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Credit Union Teller Sentenced for Embezzlement Scheme

Michael J. Moore, United States Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, announces January 19 that Lisa R. Cox, age 48, a resident of Macon, Georgia, was sentenced before the Honorable Marc T. Treadwell, Judge of the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, to 36 months’ imprisonment on Count One and 36 months as to Count Two to run concurrent to Count One for a total imprisonment term of 36 months; five years’ supervised release; $200.00 mandatory assessment fee; and restitution in the amount of $624,608.00.

On September 20, 2010, Cox entered a plea of guilty to one count, of embezzlement by a credit union employee in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 657, and also a single count of making a false entry in credit union records in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1006. Cox admitted to embezzling $624,608.00 and making fraudulent entries into the general ledger maintained by Mid South Federal Credit Union by indicating that vault 300 of its Mercer branch contained $500,000.00 in nickel denomination coins. She admitted to using the funds to gamble, take a European vacation, make monthly payments on a motor vehicle, and assist a relative in the purchase of a home. Cox was employed by Mid South Federal Credit Union for approximately 17 years and was at the time of the offense serving as head teller at the Mercer branch.

United States Attorney Moore noted that “not only did Ms. Cox violate the law, she violated the duties she owed to every member of the credit union.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The sentencing was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Sharon Ratley.

Questions relating to the case should be directed to Sue McKinney, Public Affairs Specialist, United States Attorney’s Office at (478) 621-2602.

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