Originally created 02/28/97

Local and regional briefs



Arrest made in shooting, robbery

AIKEN - Investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff's Department arrested a man late Thursday in connection with the afternoon shooting and robbery of a Jackson store owner.

Ulysses Johnson, 45, of 127 Anthony St. in Statesboro, Ga., was arrested at Mims Trailer Park in Hephzibah and charged with assault and battery with the intent to kill, armed robbery and unlawful possession of a firearm.

The arrest was in connection with the shooting of store owner Ulysses Jordan, 45, of 179 Mamie Joe Lane in Waynesboro, Ga.

Around 3:15 p.m. Thursday, a man knocked on the door of Jordan's Grocery and Check Cashing at 7733 Atomic Road in Jackson. The owner, Mr. Jordan, let him in because he knew him, said Lt. Michael Frank, a sheriff's spokesman.

When the men walked behind the counter and Mr. Jordan started to pick up a money bag, the man shot him in the head, picked up the money bag and fled in a tan Dodge K car, Lt. Frank said.

After the shooting, the victim walked next door and got someone to call an ambulance for him. He was transported to Aiken Regional Medical Centers, where he was listed in stable condition late Thursday.

Mr. Johnson is being held at the Richmond County jail.

Man on run finally captured

GREENVILLE, S.C. - A man who escaped from the Lower Savannah Work Camp nearly four years ago and was profiled on America's Most Wanted has been captured.

William Gladney Harden, 56, was serving time on several charges of criminal sexual conduct when he walked out of the Aiken County Courthouse, where he worked as a trusty, in May 1993.

He since has been on the U.S. marshal's list of most wanted criminals.

Mr. Harden was arrested Thursday by Greenville County sheriff's deputies for allegedly contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Parents of two teen-age boys reported their children returned home high and drunk from the hotel where Mr. Harden was staying.

Deputies made the arrest not knowing that Mr. Harden was an escaped convict. He gave police a fake name, but fingerprints later disclosed his identity.

Mr. Harden jumped from a hotel balcony trying to get away. He hurt his arm and had some cuts from the fall, but officials said it was nothing serious.

Mr. Harden also was wanted on federal charges of producing child pornography.

Israel Brooks Jr., U.S. marshal for South Carolina, said Mr. Harden's criminal history dates back to 1975 and includes several sexual offenses against minors.

Man robs jewelers

of diamond ring

Richmond County authorities were looking Thursday for a man who stole a $27,000 diamond ring from an Augusta Mall store.

The man walked into Helzberg Jewelers at about 7 p.m. Wednesday and asked to look at a diamond ring. The manager took him to the back of the store to look at the 2-carat diamond ring under a microscope. After they finished, the man said, "I'll see you," and ran from the store with the ring, police said.

The robber ran through J.C. Penney's and outside to a man waiting in a car.

Police are investigating a similar robbery at a Helzberg Jewelers store in Atlanta.

Judge denies request for retrial

An Augusta woman convicted of murder last year wasn't able to convince the judge who presided that she was entitled to another Richmond County Superior Court trial.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet denied a motion Tuesday for a new trial for Vanessa Y. Williams, 39. She was convicted of murder for shooting to death 39-year-old Levi Bryant on June 8, 1991. Ms. Williams is now serving a life plus five-year sentence.

In his ruling, Judge Overstreet disagreed that Ms. Williams was unfairly convicted of murder.

Ms. Williams was represented at trial by attorney William Lumpkin, who awaits trial on unrelated murder charges in connection with the Sept. 2 death of Stan White, 64. The star witness against Mr. Lumpkin is expected to be Ms. Williams' husband, Augustus Williams.

Chamber to hold legislative forum

AIKEN - Aiken County Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a legislative forum with area lawmakers from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday at Houndslake Country Club on Houndslake Drive.

The panel discussion will give citizens a chance to ask questions and speak with elected officials at federal, state and local levels.

The forum panel includes Rep. Lindsey Graham, state Sens. Greg Ryberg and Tommy Moore, Aiken Mayor Fred Cavanaugh, Aiken County Council Chairman Ronnie Young and a member of Aiken County Board of Education.

The event costs $15; reservations are required. For more information, call the chamber at 641-1111.

Inmates indicted in jail-bed fraud

A Columbia County grand jury Thursday indicted on felony charges two Columbia County Detention Center inmates who claimed they were injured by the collapse of a faulty bunk bed.

Ronnie Carlic and John Paul Foote said they were injured Nov. 17 when a weld failed on a bunk bed, causing the structure to collapse. The welds were later judged faulty by an independent inspector and reinforced.

But according to authorities who investigated the matter, the inmates staged the collapse after pulling the bed from the wall.

Both inmates were indicted on charges of interference with government property and conspiring to defraud a political subdivision, according to court records unsealed Thursday afternoon. No trial date has been set.

Group to hold citywide banquet

Richmond County Neighborhoods Associations Alliance will hold a citywide banquet tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. The event at Pullman Hall, 560 Walton Way, will feature Ms. Ani Russell, the associate director with a neighborhood safety group in Chicago. Call 793-8957 for ticket information.

Police seek second man in robbery

AIKEN - Authorities are searching for a second man in connection with the Feb. 22 robbery and kidnapping of an Aiken man outside a Hampton Avenue convenience store.

Investigators are looking for 19-year-old Craig Daniel Gantt of Aiken, said Capt. Tom Galardi of the Aiken Department of Public Safety. He is described as a 6-foot-2, 160-pound black male.

Tyrone Rosales, 19, of 650 Cushman Drive, was arrested and charged Sunday with armed robbery and kidnapping.

About 10:30 p.m. Saturday, a man - police aren't releasing his name - was robbed at gunpoint by two bandits in the parking lot of the Depot Food Store at 318 Hampton Ave., Capt. Galardi said.

The robbers drove the man in his own vehicle to Aiken Lane before releasing him unharmed. They got away with jewelry and an undisclosed amount of cash, Capt. Galardi said.

Anyone with information on the location of this subject should contact Detective Morris Deason at 642-7620 or Crime Stoppers at 642-1798.

Therapist faces molestation charge

AIKEN - A former Aiken psychotherapist has been arrested in New Jersey in connection with the molestation of an 8-year-old boy during a trip to South Carolina and Georgia, authorities said.

Westwood Police Department and Bergen County Prosecutor's Office in New Jersey charged David Michael Cenicola, 35, of 758 Tiffany Ave. in River Vale, N.J., with endangering the welfare of a child under New Jersey law, said Lt. Michael Frank of Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

Police said the boy was molested between December 1996 and January at various motels in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.

A dispatcher at Westwood Police Department wouldn't comment on whether the boy was from New Jersey or why he took a trip to the South. He referred questions to a detective who wasn't in the office late Thursday.

Prior to moving to New Jersey, Mr. Cenicola was self-employed as a family therapist in Aiken. He was also employed as a psychotherapist from June 1990 until December 1994 at Aiken/Barnwell Mental Health Center. He also worked as a guidance counselor during the 1989-1990 school year at Aiken Preparatory School.

Anyone with information about this individual or additional victims can contact Aiken County Sheriff's Office at (803) 642-1761 or (800) 922-3211, or leave information with Crime Stoppers at (803) 642-1798.

GA

State GOP to bid for convention

ATLANTA - Georgia Republicans are bidding to bring their national party convention to Atlanta in the year 2000.

"I think it would be an ideal time and location," state Republican Chairman Rusty Paul said.

"The South is the area where the strongest growth is occurring in the party," said Mr. Paul, who is spearheading the drive.

The site decision will be made by party leaders late in 1998 or early in 1999. Georgia figures to benefit from the inside influence of several well-placed GOP leaders. The only announced competition is San Antonio. However, Texas has held two national Republican conventions in the last 20 years - 1984 in Dallas, and 1992 in Houston.

SC

Man charged with having piranhas

CHARLESTON - The owner of a local pet shop that featured a display tank of piranhas has been charged with illegal possession of the flesh-eating fish with razor-sharp teeth.

Edward Brawley Hutton, a partner in Age of Aquariums fish shop, was charged Monday by state wildlife officers and released on $375 bond.

The 36 red-bellied piranhas in a tank at the store were not for sale. They were part of an educational display and people came in to watch them feed, said Steve Cramer, the store's managing partner.

He said he thought the shop's former owner, whose interest he bought last year, had the permit before the fish were flown in from the West Coast.

The piranhas were killed when a store employee dumped bleach into the tank, Mr. Cramer said. The worker, after hearing a wildlife officer say the fish would be destroyed, worried they might suffer, he said.

Piranhas are small, voracious freshwater fish from South America. In schools, they attack almost any animal, including humans.

- Compiled by Bill Sanders