Originally created 11/13/97

Landfill worker arrested



An Augusta city landfill employee was suspended and jailed Wednesday after being charged with stealing government property and making false statements to police.

Robert Blueford Watson of the 500 block of San Salvador Drive in North Augusta, a supervisor at the Richmond County landfill off Deans Bridge Road, was charged with taking gravel from the landfill and using a bulldozerlike piece of equipment, also owned by the city, to spread rocks on another landfill employee's private property.

Mr. Watson, 35, was suspended with pay from his job, said Augusta Administrator Randy Oliver. A hearing is scheduled today to determine whether further action is needed. Other employees may be involved, Mr. Oliver added.

City officials launched their investigation of the theft nearly a month ago.

"We received information that on Oct. 14, Mr. Watson delivered two truckloads of gravel to a residence on Greenland Road in Blythe. We can't say much more because it's still under investigation," Sheriff Charlie Webster said.

Sheriff Webster wouldn't identify other potential suspects. The charges against Mr. Watson are felonies, and more arrests are possible, the sheriff said.

The false-statements charge stems from allegations that Mr. Watson attempted to hide information, according to police reports. He didn't want to identify the people he helped, officials said.

Sheriff Webster couldn't say how much gravel was taken and added that it didn't matter.

"Anytime you steal something from the government, no matter how much you take, it's considered a felony," he said.