Alexia Dawn Davis, 31, surrendered at the Columbia County Detention Center on a charge of theft of lost or mislaid property, according to Columbia County sheriff’s Capt. Steve Morris. Davis was booked into jail Tuesday morning and released after posting a $2,500 bond, Morris said.
Davis, an attorney in the Office of the Public Defender in Augusta, is accused of not returning a diamond ring she found in the parking lot of Cracker Barrel restaurant Feb. 7.
Jane G. Prater, 62, of Thomson, reported the ring missing Feb. 12. She told deputies that she lost the ring, worth about $10,500, in the parking lot about 7 p.m. Feb. 7. A server at the restaurant said a woman who was with Davis went inside and asked what to do if she found a ring.
“(The) woman opted not to leave it with Cracker Barrel with the manager in control of lost and found and made a comment that it would be reported to the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office,” Morris said. “And it never was.”
Morris published surveillance video from the restaurant in hopes of identifying the woman Feb. 19. The same day, nearly two weeks after the ring was lost, Davis took the ring to Richmond County authorities.
A warrant was issued for Davis for theft of lost or mislaid property. The charge is a felony because the ring is worth more than $1,500, Morris said. He said that by law, when “a person comes into control of property that they know to be lost or mislaid, they must take reasonable measures to restore the property to its owner.”
“That did not occur in this case,” Morris said.
Katherine Mason, the public defender for the Augusta Judicial Circuit, said she’s not allowed to comment on personnel matters.
Tanya Jeffords, one of four attorneys representing Davis, released a statement on behalf of her client Tuesday:
“No matter what shadow the Sheriff and the District Attorney’s office tries to cast upon Ms. Davis’ impeccable reputation and her motives, the legal fact is that she did not appropriate the ring for her own use, which is the crime this statute is intending to cover. When she learned who the owner was through the postings online from the Sheriff’s office, she promptly turned it in. She knew it was valuable but she had neither sold it nor wore the ring as if it was hers.”
Paula Frederick, the general counsel for the Georgia Bar Association, said no disciplinary action will be taken against Davis unless she is convicted.
“If she is convicted of a crime, that is a violation of the rules of professional conduct,” said Frederick, who does not know the details of Davis’ case.
Frederick said that if Davis is convicted, the bar association will ask the Georgia Supreme Court, which has the authority to discipline lawyers, for an “appropriate discipline.” If Davis is convicted of a felony, Frederick said, the bar association would likely ask for Davis to be disbarred.