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Augusta solicitor might ask to dismiss Masters ticket charges

Solicitor reviews ticket-related charges; dismissal possible

Friday, April 27, 2012 4:44 PM
Last updated Saturday, April 28, 2012 10:43 PM
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A city prosecutor says he probably will recommend dropping the charges against most of the people arrested for their involvement in buy­ing and selling Masters Tour­nament tickets this month.

Steve Crawford/FILE
More than 40 people were arrested during Masters Week in connection with buying, selling or soliciting Masters tickets. Most – more than 30 – were charged with disorderly conduct, not ticket scalping, and taken to the Richmond County jail to be booked.

Harry B. James, the solicitor for Richmond County Magistrate Court, said that he has begun reviewing the cases under his jurisdiction and that he is inclined to recommend dismissal for all.

“Most of those persons arrested stayed in jail for two to five hours,” James said. “So I’m looking at several possibilities, including requesting the court to (dismiss) based on time served.”

More than 40 people were arrested during Masters Week in connection with buying, selling or soliciting Masters tickets outside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club. Most – more than 30 – were charged with disorderly conduct, not ticket scalping, and taken to the Richmond County jail to be booked. They remained there until someone posted at least $500 bond, which will be refunded if the charges are dropped.

James said he has heard complaints from several of those charged with disorderly conduct and is weighing those complaints against the facts of the cases. He said most of the people were from out of town and unfamiliar with local laws. Considering that, the fact that they spent time in jail and, in some cases, lost their Masters tickets and money, could be enough punishment for their transgressions, he said.

In addition, most of those charged have long distances to travel – as far away as Can­ada and California – to return, should they want to have their day in court, he said.

“You have to temper justice with mercy sometimes,” he said.

James said that he had looked at about a quarter of the cases so far and that unless someone had additional charges or caused problems for the arresting officer, he thinks dismissal is likely.

Should he choose to do so, James will have to make a formal motion with the court, and it will be up to the presiding magistrate judge to dismiss the case. Chief Magistrate Judge Williams Jennings III said Friday he could not comment on the cases that might come before him. He will wait for James’ motion, if it comes. In general, he said judges are inclined to follow the recommendation of a prosecutor who chooses not to proceed, but not always.

James said he will make recommendations next week. Most of the cases have very similar circumstances, so just dismissing a few won’t be a good option, he said.

“My policy is what we do for one, we do for all,” James said.

If James moves to dismiss all the cases, however, Sheriff Ronnie Strength said, he won’t remain quiet.

“If he does that he is going to hear from me, because it was violation of the law,” Strength said. “There is just one question on any of this, ‘Is it against the law or is it not against the law?’ ”

Strength says he stands behind the arrests because something has to be done to discourage the swarms of people who wait outside of Augusta National’s gates harassing patrons for tickets as they leave. He said no one is considering how the golf patrons feel about that.

“I’ve got two or three calls from patrons who said, ‘Thank you for what you were doing out there,’ ” he said.

The sheriff’s office has tried warnings and issuing citations to those who violate the state law by selling tickets within 2,700 feet of the gates, but people persist in doing it no matter what, Strength said.

“It is just like panhandling,” he said. “We don’t want that downtown, so what would you do if somebody was asking for money out in front of your business?”

Strength said he and other officials will probably have a “sit down” with Augusta National to see what can be done to improve the situation for next year, including the possibility of posting signs addressing the state scalping law.

James said signs to help visitors understand the law would be good to consider.

“We don’t want to give the city a bad name,” James said. “We don’t want our Masters visitors thinking that the city is trying to take advantage of our guests.”

Comments (36) Add comment
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raul
4089
Points
raul 04/27/12 - 05:25 pm
9
0
all of these people should

all of these people should have just received a warning. Heck, I live here and didn't know the rules. I wonder if the National sent them the information when they mailed out the tickets?

raul
4089
Points
raul 04/27/12 - 05:38 pm
8
0
Speaking of panhandling, I

Speaking of panhandling, I wish the law was enforced with equal vigor as was this law.

Sweet son
9661
Points
Sweet son 04/27/12 - 05:51 pm
4
0
@Raul, I agree about letting

@Raul, I agree about letting those who receive tickets/badges that this is a strict policy. That way at least one of the unsuspecting arrestees knew the consequences.

my2cents
19
Points
my2cents 04/27/12 - 05:49 pm
4
0
Wow! 2 or 3 calls?!

Wow! 2 or 3 calls?!

Just My Opinion
5259
Points
Just My Opinion 04/27/12 - 05:55 pm
4
0
I think we all know what is

I think we all know what is going to happen here....all these folks will be let go, and a whole bunch of signs will be posted for next year's tournament. And I'm sure more warnings than tickets will be given out next year. The bottom line is that, yes, technically it was against the law, but it's not a good law in the scope in which it was carred out. And raul, the letter that comes with tickets/badges does specify that tickets can't be re-sold...not sure about just plain GIVING them away! And my2cents...you beat me to it with the 2 or 3 call thing!

OJP
5898
Points
OJP 04/27/12 - 06:05 pm
4
0
I support this. Without a

I support this. Without a posted sign, how were our guests - yes, guests - supposed to know where the imaginary line was?

And, no, this is not like putting up a sign telling the public not to murder or rob each other. It's like putting up a sign telling the public: "Don't go faster than 35 here - okay, now no faster than 45 here."

Why post speed limits if we're all just "supposed to know"?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/27/12 - 06:41 pm
6
0
Two questions... 1) How many

Two questions...

1) How many times have people been convicted when they actually challenged their arrest for "scalping" or "disorderly conduct"?

2) How often (if ever) does the sheriff's office meet with a private entity to discuss how to enforce the law? Is the Augusta National a special exception in having a voice in law enforcement?

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/27/12 - 07:02 pm
8
0
When was the last time that

When was the last time that the sheriff's office...

- Met with downtown businesses to discuss panhandling?

- Met with Doug Bernard Highway businesses to discuss highway safety?

- Met with Harrisburg businesses to discuss drugs and violence?

- Met with any business (other than the Augusta National) to discuss any crime?

Kendall
0
Points
Kendall 04/27/12 - 07:21 pm
4
0
First of all, props to Mr.
Unpublished

First of all, props to Mr. James for actually using the grey matter in his skull and putting it to good use. This is an important first step in bringing some sense to Augusta. The next step should be for the sherrif's department to issue an an apology to these people and beg them not to consider this single instance when they form an opinion of our city. The sherrif should also consider taking funds out of his budget and giving these people vouchers for one (1) night motel stay, (1) dinner at a local restaurant and (1) ticket to a practice round next year. You notice that most of these people were charged with disorderly conduct. People in law enforcement will admit (if they are honest) that the disorderly conduct law is a BS law given to them by the state legistature so that they can mess with people and perhaps ruin their lives by giving them criminal records. So continue on, you brave Richmond County warriors in your fight against ticket scalping and disorderly conduct.

John Locke
291
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John Locke 04/27/12 - 08:17 pm
2
0
“We don’t want to give the

“We don’t want to give the city a bad name,” James said.

[Too late - damage done]

“We don’t want our Masters visitors thinking that the city is trying to take advantage of our guests.”

[What about visitors not here for the Masters - do they get the same treatment? Or just that one special week?]

Problem here is if you want to enforce a law fine - then you shouldn't care about the public relations problem. Such as the issue with illegal immigration has become. Public pressure seems to have taken precedence - certainly those arrested were not handled properly. Thinking these problems through before - not after - is a major problem around here. These consqeuences could have easily been predicted. And it was a down right stupid thing to do. But thinking things through, weighing the outcomes of courses of action, planning for the results, etc, are not strong points of Augusta government and agencies. Or Columbia county for that matter....

Pu239
284
Points
Pu239 04/27/12 - 08:50 pm
0
0
Nip it..........NIP
Unpublished

Nip it..........NIP IT......NIP IT IN THE BUD

itsanotherday1
40055
Points
itsanotherday1 04/27/12 - 10:59 pm
4
0
"Augusta solicitor might ask

"Augusta solicitor might ask to dismiss Masters ticket charges"

And indeed he/she should. 'nuff said.

ken8375309
1494
Points
ken8375309 04/28/12 - 01:01 am
2
0
Indeed, too late the damage

Indeed, too late the damage is done.. Rekindles memories to me of an old song by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, American Dream..

kissofdeath
397
Points
kissofdeath 04/28/12 - 03:15 am
2
11
The Black man go to jail then

The Black man go to jail then wait court trial,while the White man get a slap on the wrist. This just show people the true colored our tainted judicial system.

jmo
14310
Points
jmo 04/28/12 - 04:58 am
6
1
OMG. How did race get into

OMG. How did race get into this discussion?

blues550
353
Points
blues550 04/28/12 - 07:04 am
0
0
Race? How? You are on the
Unpublished

Race? How? You are on the Comical web site. That's how.

Now perhaps our law enforcement folks can concentrate on real crimes committed by real criminals.

twolane
191
Points
twolane 04/28/12 - 09:53 am
0
0
basically dropping the
Unpublished

basically dropping the charges because they were bogus to begin with and would get thrown out by a jury because they WERENT breaking the law as defined as disorderly conduct...what a waste of law personnels time

twolane
191
Points
twolane 04/28/12 - 09:57 am
0
0
and sheriff you and your
Unpublished

and sheriff you and your fellow cops dont do a thing about panhandling they sit in the same place every day and harrass passers by

Discussionstarter
467
Points
Discussionstarter 04/28/12 - 09:59 am
0
11
I support Sheriff Strength on

I support Sheriff Strength on his comment. The law was enforced and the court should stand behind it.

JRC2024
7934
Points
JRC2024 04/28/12 - 10:22 am
2
0
KOD, all can be bonded out if

KOD, all can be bonded out if the crime is not too bad or if there is a probation violation. Your comment is way out of contex and way off key for this article. This is not a violent crime or a crime that steals, robs or one of selling drugs. Those hurt people. This one doesn't. I also agree that signs should be posted at the entrances explaining the law. Disordely conduct is a charge that is used if someone even says a rebuttle to the officer or questions his or her authority which is hogwash.

JRC2024
7934
Points
JRC2024 04/28/12 - 10:28 am
1
0
Panhandlers are always at the

Panhandlers are always at the Shell station on Walton Way, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Domonios Pizza and around Captain D's on Washington Road. Their scam is I am out of gas and need to get to the hospital, need a bus ticket home or hungry. When you offer them food they always say I want food from the resturant across the street. All they want is the money. Ask one of them to work and they will just walk away and have something smart to say. The police department can not respond to all the calls about this type of activity. Just tell them you do not give away your hard earned money.

Just My Opinion
5259
Points
Just My Opinion 04/28/12 - 10:42 am
2
1
Wonder if the true owners

Wonder if the true owners really got their names taken off the badge list?

Just My Opinion
5259
Points
Just My Opinion 04/28/12 - 12:25 pm
3
0
fatboy, don't you mean you

fatboy, don't you mean you "can't take one seriously"? See...don't that sound mo'better?

blakkone
63
Points
blakkone 04/28/12 - 01:09 pm
1
2
"The Black man go to jail

"The Black man go to jail then wait court trial,while the White man get a slap on the wrist. This just show people the true colored our tainted judicial system."

"This is not a violent crime or a crime that steals, robs or one of selling drugs. Those hurt people."

So....is that the ONLY thing black man goes to jail for? Could it be possible that black man enjoy golf too and was part of the sum that had their time and trip interrupted for brief confinement?

debbiep38
378
Points
debbiep38 04/28/12 - 01:10 pm
0
0
Poor KOD.
Unpublished

Poor KOD.

mike1sc
197
Points
mike1sc 04/28/12 - 01:27 pm
2
0
The problems at Augusta

The problems at Augusta National has not been on the four tournament days but instead the practice round days. When all the bloodsuckers hit Augusta buying and selling tickets, so many of fine upstanding people have used kids to harass people leaving early on practice days of begging for their tickets, so they can be ran back to the bloodsucker who can then sell the ticket again. Unfortunately, alot or most of the people charged who are described in this article had no idea of the bloodsucker procedures in place and were just trying to gain entry like is done in so many other venues around the world where the tickets are hard to come by. Local law enforcement was just trying to throttle down the bloodsuckers. Now, the powers to be should do the right thing and let these people walk. The few bloodsuckers who were caught, well, that's another story altogether.

Discussionstarter
467
Points
Discussionstarter 04/28/12 - 02:28 pm
2
1
The Augusta National should

The Augusta National should only allow the original badge holder to use the ticket. I can not tell you how many people who have badges never use them and just sell them every year. If some one else uses the badge.... the Augusta National should take the badge away. This then would allow another opportunity in the annual lottery.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 04/28/12 - 04:08 pm
1
0
Mike1, I agree with you, but

Mike1, I agree with you, but doubt that most were innocent folks just asking. Most true golf fans know these are the hardest tickets in sports to get. They also know the Augusta National rules. Although frowned upon by the National they allow families to hand tickets over after a visit. This has always been the case as which it was this year. I do agree that signs are needed, but don't think that will slow down the arrest of ticket scalping. Most commenting on here obviously don't understand the money made in this business or the tricks of the trade. DO you except these folks to say their guilty?

itsanotherday1
40055
Points
itsanotherday1 04/28/12 - 04:32 pm
1
1
I agree 100% Discussion with

I agree 100% Discussion with one proviso; only take away the tickets if they were proven to be sold at over face value. Easy enough to do if undercover Masters officials do some spot buying from scalpers. I have no issue at all with someone other than the ticket "owner" using the tickets to see the toonament. I've enjoyed that generosity of others a number of times in the past.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 04/28/12 - 04:33 pm
2
0
If you were driving on a

If you were driving on a highway clearly marked with a 50 MPH speed limit then crossed the state line where there are no signs, do you have the required intent to break the law when you are ticketed for going 50 in a 35?

Is that what happened here with the tickets?

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