Across the area

Power scam targets businesses


A scam artist has attempted to get money from several Augusta businesses by impersonating a Georgia Power employee, the company said Monday.

Several business offices have been contacted by telephone by someone identifying himself as a Georgia Power employee, said power company spokeswoman Carol Boatright.

The caller says the electric bill is past due and that the power will be cut off that day if the customer does not provide a credit card payment immediately.

Ms. Boatright said that when the impostor was asked for a call-back number he hung up.

Georgia Power employees will never call a customer seeking personal information such as credit card numbers, she said. Field service representatives will never ask a customer for money when they visit a residence.

Georgia Power's corporate security department is working with local law enforcement to identify the impostor. Possible victims are asked to call (404) 506-4116.

Police charge man in robbery conspiracy

An Augusta man has been arrested and charged with conspiring to rob an Aiken County bank, according to the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Tracy Barnes III, 40, of the 2400 block of Amsterdam Drive, is charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

On Friday, sheriff's investigators and FBI agents arrested Mr. Barnes in the parking lot of Midland Valley Shopping Center in Clearwater. A mask, gloves and pistol were found in an automobile. A woman also was taken into custody.

Mr. Barnes was being held at the Aiken County Detention Center.

Thief breaks into glass case, steals 39 iPods

Thousands of dollars worth of iPod music players were stolen from a glass display case inside Circuit City on Sunday.

The manager of the store on Robert C. Daniel Jr. Parkway told a Richmond County sheriff's deputy that the thief used a tool to break the lock to the case and stole 39 iPods, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report. The theft happened during store hours, according to the report.

The stolen items were valued at $9,750.

Driver on wrong side hits, kills woman

A Hephzibah woman died in a head-on wreck on Willis Foreman Road early Sunday morning.

Beverly Jeanette McGruder, of the 3700 block of Crest Drive, was traveling west in the 2500 block of Willis Foreman when she was hit by a car driven by Damien Tavares Evans, of Asheville, N.C., according to a Richmond County sheriff's report. The impact pinned Ms. McGruder inside her car, and it took emergency personnel about an hour to free her. She was pronounced dead at the scene at 3:45 a.m.

Mr. Evans was arrested on charges of driving on the wrong side of the road and second-degree vehicular homicide.

Sergeant investigated by sheriff's office

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is looking into allegations that one of its top homicide investigators "mishandled" information pertaining to several open cases.

Sgt. Richard Roundtree, who is undergoing training with the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., is being investigated by the department and is scheduled to appear before the sheriff's review board for possible disciplinary action when he returns in September, his supervisor, Maj. Ken Autry, has confirmed.

The major said the sheriff's office does not typically discuss disciplinary actions but he wanted to dispel any rumors that have arisen as a result of the investigation.

He would not say specifically how the sergeant mishandled the paperwork but said it related to several violent-crimes cases. The department's investigation has not found that any cases were "compromised" because of the infraction, Maj. Autry said.

Emergency worker is arrested in shoplifting

An employee of Richmond County's 911 Emergency Services was arrested Friday on charges stemming from the theft of a silver-colored bracelet from Dillard's in the Augusta Mall.

Courtney Michelle Thomas, of the 1900 block of Piedmont Street, is charged with theft by taking under $300, according to a Richmond County sheriff's report. A store employee saw Ms. Thomas place the bracelet, valued at $25, in her shopping bag and leave the store, the report said.

Ex-teacher to appear in court next month

A 37-year-old North Augusta math teacher, accused of having an inappropriate relationship with a 14-year-old female pupil is scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 5.

Shannon Fowler, an eighth-grade math teacher at Paul Knox Middle School, is charged with five counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, one count of enticing an enrolled child from attendance in school and one count of violating mandated test security regulations and procedures set forth by the state Board of Education.

Mrs. Fowler was arrested last month by agents with the State Law Enforcement Division, who initiated the investigation at the request of the North Augusta Department of Public Safety.

The middle school teacher has been free on a personal recognizance bond from the Aiken County Detention Center.

Company that built boat ramp to pay fine

An Augusta corporation that built a boat ramp on the Savannah River without securing permits to breach a protective buffer zone will pay a $7,241 fine and provide mitigation land elsewhere, according to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.

Bluff Plantation Co. LLC built the boat ramp off Bennock Mill Road in Richmond County about a year ago in violation of state Erosion & Sedimentation laws that prohibit development along a 25-foot horizontal zone bordering creeks and rivers.

The company's registered agent, Clay Boardman, said in an e-mail that the land manager for the undeveloped property simply installed a boat ramp and some rock rip-rap but did not cut any trees or destroy any wetlands. "He did not know a permit was needed," Mr. Boardman said.

According to a consent order negotiated with EPD -- and posted last week on the agency's Web site -- the company will pay the fine within 30 days and will purchase land in an approved mitigation bank. The ramp will be allowed to stay in place.

Part of Bungalow Road to close

A portion of Bungalow Road will be closed from Ivey Road to Richmond Hill Road from today until Sept. 1. The closure is part of the Bunglaow Road Improvement project, according to a news release from the Richmond County Engineering Department. Detours will be in place to guide motorists.