Originally created 07/04/97

Local and area briefs



Robber sentenced to 40-year term

A 25-year-old Augusta man accused of taking part in a robbery spree of a dozen area businesses received a 40-year prison sentence Thursday.

Frederick Bernard Palmer, of the 3300 block of Victor Drive, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to 12 counts of robbery, theft by receiving stolen property and giving a false name. He and two others were arrested for a series of holdups last fall and winter.

"It's a wonder you haven't been killed, that somebody hadn't shot you," Judge Franklin H. Pierce told Mr. Palmer.

As part of the plea negotiation, additional charges against Mr. Palmer were dropped and the prosecutor agreed to a maximum sentence of 40 years.

Man charged with robbery

AIKEN - An Aiken man was arrested Thursday in connection with an early morning robbery at American Hearth Inn on Richland Avenue.

Hurbert Eric Coleman, 30, of the 1000 block of Sunday Drive, was charged with strong-armed robbery about 7 a.m., said Lt. Michael Frank, spokesman for the Aiken County Sheriff's Office.

About 6 a.m., a man walked into the motel office, grabbed a key from the clerk's pocket and took money from the cash register, Lt. Frank said. The clerk wasn't injured, he said.

The robber fled but was caught within an hour at a residence on Washington Circle in Aiken, the spokesman said.

Mr. Coleman is being held at Aiken County Detention Center.

Carter's card used fraudulently

AMERICUS - Former President Jimmy Carter is a victim of credit card fraud.

Police charged Michael Robinson of Americus with financial transaction card fraud after he allegedly ordered $45.27 worth of CDs using Mr. Carter's credit card number.

Mr. Robinson obtained the number while working at an Americus restaurant, said Kenneth Keene, assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service office in Atlanta. He did not know whether Mr. Carter had eaten at the restaurant. Americus is 10 miles from Mr. Carter's hometown of Plains.

A member of Mr. Carter's staff noticed the CD purchase on Mr. Carter's credit card bill, knew it wasn't made by the former president and notified the Secret Service. The Secret Service notified Americus police June 26, and the theft was traced to Mr. Robinson.

Mr. Robinson was released late Wednesday on $1,250 bond. He could face one to three years in prison if found guilty, Sumter County District Attorney John Parks said Thursday.

Father charged with cruelty

LAWRENCEVILLE - A 42-year-old man has been charged with aggravated child molestation and cruelty to children after two coins were found in his 5-year-old daughter's body, Gwinnett County police said.

The man has not been identified but is being held in the county jail.

Gwinnett Police Detective John Awtrey said the Snellville girl told authorities her father put the coins inside her when her parents were living together. The parents separated more than a year ago.

Detective Awtrey said the girl's mother repeatedly took her to a family doctor because the child had high fevers and an unusual discharge. Her physician recommended a gynecologist, who found a penny and a nickel inside the girl during an examination.

When the coins were removed by a surgeon at Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center in May, they were fused together, indicating they had been inside her for a long time, Detective Awtrey said.

Benning wins federal award

FORT BENNING - After an announcement in March that was later described as premature, Fort Benning has received official word that it has won the country's highest award for quality achievement among federal organizations.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management said Wednesday that the post's U.S. Infantry School and Center had won the Presidential Award for Quality. The office nominates federal agencies for the award, with the final decision made by the president.

"They really have won it this time," OPM spokesman Mike Orenstein said in Washington.

Fort Benning officials announced in March that they had won the award, but OPM and White House officials said at the time that the announcement was "very, very premature."

In a letter to Defense Secretary William Cohen, President Clinton named Fort Benning his choice for the award, which is based on criteria such as improved customer service and significant savings to taxpayers.

Remains those of elderly man

SYLVESTER - Human remains found in Worth County have been identified as those of a 71-year-old Dawson man who disappeared nearly two years ago, and the sheriff said the man did not die of natural causes.

The clothed skeleton of Richard Rackley was found about noon Tuesday by prison workers on Georgia Highway 33 about nine miles south of Sylvester, which is 20 miles east of Albany in southwest Georgia.

Worth County Sheriff Freddie Tompkins said Wednesday afternoon that he did not know the cause of Mr. Rackley's death but said, "It's definitely foul play."

Mr. Rackley owned and operated yard work and construction businesses. He was last seen Sept. 20, 1995, and reportedly had gone to Albany to discuss payment of wages with workers.

Police found his abandoned car in nearby Lee County a day later.

Dredging halted for holiday

MYRTLE BEACH Ä Workers have stopped pumping sand onto the beach so the contractor can move equipment out of the hotel district for the holiday weekend.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., the city and the state agreed Wednesday to move the beach renourishment project to a residential area.

That will cost $192,000, but officials hope the move will cut losses for beachfront businesses and get the sand-pumping project back up to speed.

As the dredging pipes move, so does the area of beach closed to the public - about 500 feet of strand at a time.

The beach-widening project was supposed to be finished by mid-July. But high seas, coarse sand and equipment problems have delayed it by at least two months.

Ä Compiled by Kelly Daniel