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Some still awaiting resolution of Masters Tournament ticket arrests

Thursday, Aug 30, 2012 2:25 PM
Last updated Friday, Aug 31, 2012 1:55 AM
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More than four months after dozens of people were arrested in a sheriff’s crackdown on ticket exchanges outside the Masters Tournament, a couple of them are still waiting for their day in court.

Bryan Epps, of Florence, S.C., was one of about 40 people hauled to jail during the first week of April on charges related to the buying and selling of practice round tickets outside the gates of Augusta National Golf Club.

Although two people were charged with violating the state scalping law, most were like Epps – charged with disorderly conduct and held at the jail until they were able to post $500 bonds.

Epps said he is still waiting for a bench trial in Magistrate Court because he wants the charge dropped and his bond money returned.

“I am riding this all the way to the end,” he said.

Of the 38 people charged with disorderly conduct, 20 chose not to go to court to contest the charges and forfeited their bond money in lieu of a fine. Most of those people were from outside Georgia, some from as far way as California and Canada. Two people who wrote letters of complaint, one from Florida and one from Iowa, had their cases dismissed without attending court.

One other Augusta man, Austin Smith, had his case transferred to State Court and is still awaiting trial. Solicitor General Charles Evans said that he hasn’t made up his mind on how to proceed with that case but that he would take into account what happened with similar cases in Magistrate Court.

Most of defendants who have gone to Magistrate Court had their charges dropped but didn’t get their bond money refunded. That’s not a deal that Epps is ready to accept, and neither was Stephen Sherman, who was arrested the same day as Epps.

Sherman went to court May 10, pleaded not guilty and asked for a bench trial. That was granted before Magistrate Judge Scott Allen on June 11. Sherman said Allen took one look at the charges, dismissed the case and ordered his money returned.

“I didn’t even have to plead my case, to be honest,” Sherman said.

Epps asked to have his case postponed on May 10 because he had just started a new job. The court granted that request, but his next court date wasn’t until July 2. When he pleaded not guilty, he said, Judge William Jennings III told him he would have to come back.

“He popped the gavel down, and I was done,” said Epps, who has been waiting to hear from the court since. “I have called and called and called and called.”

When The Augusta Chronicle inquired about Epps’ case this week, Magistrate Court officials said the case had been set for Sept. 17. They said Epps would be notified of the date.

Sherman said that he was pleased his case was dropped.

“I’m very happy about how the case turned out, but I’m not happy at all about my photo,” he said. “I was fully exonerated, and my face is still on a crime mug shot site.”

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Little Lamb
Little Lamb 08/30/12 - 02:49 pm
Cop Out

Disorderly conduct is a cop-out charge. Either charge the person selling the ticket with scalping or ignore the transaction. Many of the persons who were arrested were buying the tickets. The anti-scalping law is clear that only the seller is breaking the law.

happychimer 08/30/12 - 06:00 pm
If your mugshot is on jail

If your mugshot is on jail report and you were not found guilty, you can tell jail report and they will place an update.

Riverman1 08/31/12 - 06:36 am
Sometimes you just have to

Sometimes you just have to take a stand when the law does something wrong. I don't believe any judge can fine these people in good conscious. The previous judge who let them go, but fined them was expedient while supporting the arrest. That's wrong. If one of the defendants refuses to pay the fine will he be sent to jail? If a judge does that, he's lost touch with reality and morality.

soapy_725 08/31/12 - 10:57 am
In CC we judge people by their intent and not their

actions. Judges in ARC would be wise to adopt this forward thinking approach. CC has a special permit "on loan from GOD". CC also uses this permit to forecast flood zones and lightning strikes. After all, CC stands for Christian Conservative.

Just as ARC stands for Azziz Runs County.

soapy_725 08/31/12 - 04:04 pm
ANGC enlarge that buffer........

the constant embarrassment that is River City is lurking outside your gates.

Ruckus 09/01/12 - 08:28 am
Augusta Nationals

Has also placed restrictions on how far away a person can sell tickets from the gate also. Welcome to Augusta out of towners hahaha

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