Grand jury arrest warrants have been issued for seven people linked to a two-year “stolen automobile for cash” scheme that resulted in the theft of 104 cars from Southern Pik-A-Part.
The warrants follow a nine-month embezzlement investigation by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, according to a police statement Monday.
Sgt. Shane McDaniel said the agency was notified of the scheme in December 2012 after a Southern Pik-A-Part audit found several vehicles missing from the its inventory.
The investigation found that the cars were removed without permission of the company, and that the scheme was organized by employees and several businesses with licenses in Augusta. Two of the suspects were involved with local used car dealerships.
In addition to the stolen vehicles, police say more than $99,000 was taken over a period of 18 months.
Police recovered 34 vehicles at Norris Used Auto Sales at 2543 Peach Orchard Road. Brown’s Automotive at 1555 Doug Barnard Parkway housed 11 of the vehicles, and four vehicles were found in the 600 block of Dennis Drive in Martinez.
Eleven vehicles were sold on the street, and 44 of the stolen vehicles were still missing as of Monday afternoon.
McDaniel said the sheriff’s office thinks the “junk cars” were being sold as parts and for their metal.
Police arrested Dennis Ray McDaniel, 49, of Martinez; Joshua Tyler McDaniel, 23, of Martinez; Jeffery Bernard Norris, 49, of Augusta; Christopher Brown, 36, of Augusta; Michael Tracy Kerr, 50, of Augusta; and Timothy Len Bailey, 40, of Augusta, on felony charges of theft by taking.
Tammie Carlesha Johnson, 29, of Augusta, turned herself in Monday evening, jail records show.
Authorities say Dennis McDaniel was the operations manager at Southern Pik-A-Part at the time of the investigation. Johnson was an accounts manager with the company and Bailey was a wrecker driver, according to the statement. Dennis McDaniel and Joshua McDaniel are the co-owners of Junk in the Box, a trash removal service based in Augusta.
Norris was identified as an employee of Norris Used Auto Sales. Kerr and
Brown were identified as employees of Kerr Motors and Brown’s Automotive, respectively.