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Former Augusta fire department inspector pleads guilty to theft

Man pocketed inspection fees

Friday, Jan. 17, 2014 12:42 AM
Last updated 9:36 AM
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A former lieutenant for the Richmond County Fire Department pleaded guilty Thurs­day to theft for pocketing fire inspection fees.

Lenston Harris, 58, entered his plea in Richmond County Superior Court. Judge J. David Roper sentenced Harris to six years, with the first 18 months to be served in jail. Harris will be on probation after his release.

In February 2012, Harris resigned and confessed when he was confronted with his crime, Assistant District Attorney Robert Homlar said.

Harris had been assigned to inspect businesses for fire safety before business licenses could be issued. The $75 fee was not supposed to be in cash, Homlar said.

Harris not only accepted cash payments but also pocketed the fees paid by two dozen businesses, Homlar said.

Defense attorney Clay Ward told the judge that Harris has the $3,150 to make full restitution. In mitigation, Ward said, Harris has been grief-stricken by the loss of two sons – one of whom was slain in a case that remains unsolved. Harris was having financial troubles and remains in danger of losing his home, his attorney said.

The judge asked Harris what he had done.
“I just kept the money,” Harris said.

Harris brought shame on himself in addition to betraying the trust of the fire department and the taxpayers, Roper said.

Harris must report to jail Tuesday.

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corgimom 01/17/14 - 08:16 am
Well, he's really in

Well, he's really in financial trouble now.

What a terrible decision he made.

But he did this, and he'll have to take his consequences.

seenitB4 01/17/14 - 09:05 am
Huge price to pay

A price to pay for so few dollars...sad.

myfather15 01/17/14 - 09:27 am
The level of disparity is just amazing!!

They actually give this Fire Fighter, who served the public for years, 18 months to serve. Yet, just ONE MONTH ago, they let a child molestor walk free, on nothing more than probation and house arrest!!

Don't get me wrong, I believe Harris needs punishment and harsh punishment!! I'm not complaining about his personal sentence, but only the disparity in the sentencing our idiotic judges dish out!!! You would honestly think there was a 5 year old sitting on these benches!! They have the moral makeup of a snake!!

corgimom 01/17/14 - 08:54 pm
This wasn't idiotic. Fire

This wasn't idiotic.

Fire inspections save people's lives. He was corrupt.

It wasn't any different than a corrupt police officer.

Because those businesses, not having an inspection on file, could've been shut down, or if there was a fire, not have benefits paid.

As to the disparate sentences, quite often the judge takes into account what the victim wants to do in terms of prosecution.

I think that the reports in the paper don't really convey all of the details and explain the judges' reasoning for these sentences.

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