Former Augusta fire inspector arrested in theft of inspection fees

Lenston Melvin Harris

A former Augusta fire inspector was arrested Thursday morning in connection with the theft of more than $1,000 in inspection fees, authorities said.

Richmond County sheriff’s Investigator Dan Ferrel said Lenston Melvin Harris was charged with theft by taking and booked into the Richmond County jail.

“Mr. Harris came in for an interview this morning and we are in the process of booking him right now,” Ferrel said Thursday morning.

The charges stem from an audit into inspection fees. Ferrel said the case will be turned over to the District Attorney’s Office when the investigation is completed. Brenda Carroll, of accounting firm Baird and Co., told police that Lt. Harris is suspected of taking at least $1,360 from businesses in payment for fire inspections between January and December 2011, according to a sheriff’s report filed Monday.

Ferrel said the businesses paid Harris in cash, and he failed to turn in the money.

He said several businesses that produced receipts for the money they paid Harris have been identified. Harris resigned as lieutenant fire inspector with the Augusta-Richmond County Fire Department on Feb. 3.

According to his personnel file, Harris has been employed by the Augusta government on and off since 1976. His only disciplinary problems have been a few reprimands for speeding in government vehicles.

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