ATLANTA — A DeKalb County grand jury on Thursday accused a former state employee and 14 others of stealing $200,000 from the state of Georgia through fraudulent tax refunds.
Naterica Burkes and the others were indicted under Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly called the RICO Act.
Burkes, who worked for the Georgia Department of Revenue, was arrested in September 2011.
The indictment alleges that Burkes used her position to create a number of fictitious accounts to issue tax refunds to herself, former colleagues, friends, family members and associates.
The indictment alleges 33 fraudulent transactions between July 2008 and September 2011.
Racketeering carries a minimum prison sentence of five years and a maximum of 20 years. Those convicted also can be fined up to three times the amount that was stolen.
Girl, 17, denied bond in slaying
PERRY, GA. — A judge has denied bond for a teenager from middle Georgia who is accused of fatally shooting her 12-year-old sister, then setting fire to the family home.
The Telegraph of Macon reports that 17-year-old Carmen Collins was denied bond Thursday in the Houston County Superior Court.
She is charged with murder and arson in the July 3 death of India Collins.
Investigators say Carmen Collins shot her sister with a .40-caliber handgun, then set the family home in Kathleen ablaze using gasoline. She fled the home but was arrested two days after the killing.
Judge Katherine K. Lumsden found that Carmen Collins was a significant risk to re-offend.
Prison officer held hostage is freed
BISHOPVILLE, S.C. — Nearly five hours after inmates at a maximum-security prison in Lee County took a corrections officer hostage, dozens of armed officers stormed the dorm where he was being held and freed him, officials said late Thursday.
Corrections Department spokesman Clark Newsom said the male officer was freed at about 9:45 p.m. Thursday by state and local officers who rushed the dorm at the Lee Correctional Institution.
Newsom said inmates offered no resistance and the officer, who suffered cuts to his head and possibly his arm, walked out on his own before being airlifted to an area hospital for treatment and observation.
The incident was contained to just one dorm, which houses about 100 inmates.
A guard was taken hostage for about six hours at the same prison in June.
Man pleads guilty in maiming case
COLUMBIA — A second man has pleaded guilty in connection with an insurance scheme that cost a mentally disabled man his left hand.
U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles says 58-year-old David Player pleaded guilty Thursday to mail fraud.
Last month, Gerald B. Hardin pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge.
Authorities say Player took out accidental death and dismemberment insurance policies on a third man and persuaded Hardin to help him cut off the man’s hand in exchange for a share of insurance money.
Hardin said Player tied the man’s arm to a tree limb and Hardin sawed off his hand.
Sentencing for both men is set for Dec. 14.
In other news
A RULING THAT sends an American Indian girl back to Oklahoma from her adoptive South Carolina family is being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The state Supreme Court agreed in July that the 2-year-old should be returned to her biological father, a member of the Cherokee tribe. It was the court’s first decision weighing state adoption law against the federal Indian Child Welfare Act.