Originally created 08/18/99

Area briefs: Alcohol suspected in accidents

Alcohol is suspected in two fatal accidents Tuesday morning, police said.

Anthony Askew, 31, of Waynesboro, was killed when he apparently lost control of his car and ran into a utility pole in the 1900 block of Tobacco Road just before 1 a.m., said Maj. Larry Vinson.

Police suspect Mr. Askew may have been under the influence of alcohol. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

About five hours later, Belton King, 57, a homeless Vietnam veteran, was struck by a car while he was trying to cross the 3400 block of Wrightsboro Road just before 6 a.m., said Richmond County sheriff's Deputy Willie Pleasant.

Mr. King was killed instantly. The driver of the truck, Christian Schmidt, 25, will not be charged. Deputy Pleasant said Mr. King is suspected of having been under the influence at the time of the accident. He was trying to cross the street in front of several cars, he said.

Agents arrest convicted molester

Georgia Bureau of Investigation agents arrested Terry Lynch Mason, a convicted child molester who violated terms of his probation, at a residence in Warrenville, S.C., on Tuesday morning.

Mr. Lynch, 49, was living with a woman on Bayberry Street in Warrenville and was taken into custody about 10:30 a.m., said Mike Seigler, assistant special agent in charge. The woman is not expected to be charged.

Agents received a tip from a caller responding to a story in The Augusta Chronicle profiling Mr. Mason's case. He was convicted of molesting his three children in McDuffie County Superior Court in March 1994.

In conjunction with Aiken County officials, Mr. Mason was apprehended. Agent Seigler said Mr. Mason likely will waive extradition, and be taken back to the McDuffie County jail.

Augusta Players sport new cast

The Augusta Players community theater group has retired a $27,000 debt, named a new executive director, and acquired a new administrative staff and 16-member board of directors.

The announcements were made Tuesday by James Borke, president of the Players' new board, during the August membership meeting of the Greater Augusta Arts Council at Lucy Craft Laney Museum.

Debbi Ballas has been hired as the Players' executive director. Mrs. Ballas, who served as interim administrative director since November, donated her former salary to the group to help pay the debt. Her new salary will be $12,000 a year plus 10 percent commission. The Players' office manager, a new position, also will be paid $12,000.

The Players faced an uncertain future last year due to debt and a restructuring that included the departure of longtime executive director Jay Willis. The group celebrated the start of its 55th consecutive season with a reception Tuesday night at its office at Sacred Heart Cultural Center. The Players' season begins Oct. 15 with Hello Dolly.

Also at Tuesday's arts council meeting, Yolanda Smith of Target Stores presented the arts council, Augusta Symphony and Augusta Ballet each with $2,000 grants.

The arts council will use the funds to give children in low-income housing admission badges to the annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival Sept. 16-19. The symphony's grant will fund children's concerts in October and March; and the ballet's funds will aid in the staging of all shows including a new production of Peter and the Wolf in February.

Target has been providing grants to local arts organizations since its Augusta store opened in 1997.

School board OKs new principal

Riverside Middle School students will have a new principal when school starts on Monday.

Columbia County school board members approved Sandra Carraway as the middle school's new principal during a special meeting on Tuesday. Mrs. Carraway, who has been an assistant principal at Evans High School, will fill the position vacated by Charles Nagle when he became associate superintendent for school services. She was one of six candidates interviewed.

"I'm thrilled," Mrs. Carraway said. "It's going to be a great opportunity to serve the system that's served me so well."

Mrs. Carraway -- who graduated from Harlem High School in 1981 -- taught Spanish and English at Harlem High for eight years before she moved to Evans High. The new principal said while she had always hoped to work for someone of Mr. Nagle's caliber, she didn't expect to take over where he left off.

"I never imagined I might have to wear his shoes," she said.

Man arrested after car case

An Augusta man was charged with reckless driving after he led police on a high speed chase through south Richmond County.

Fred Alan Perkins was spotted driving through a crosswalk on the Medical College of Georgia campus and officers tried to pull him over, said spokeswoman Peggy Seigler. Officers followed him through the campus with their car lights on before he left MCG and Richmond County deputies were notified.

A chase ensued through south Richmond County with speeds reaching 100 mph. Deputies later abandoned the chase because it became too dangerous, said Maj. Larry Vinson.

A deputy later spotted the car and skid marks at a residence on McDade Farm Road and knocked on the door and detained Mr. Perkins, who was then turned over to MCG officials. MCG charged him and took him to the Richmond County jail.

Immigrant probe expanded

ATLANTA -- The Immigration and Naturalization Service Tuesday expanded its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the 132 Chinese men and the ship apparently trying to smuggle them in, the agent in charge of the case said.

"We're not ruling out anything," said INS District Director Thomas Fischer.

Fischer had previously indicated arrests would be made in the case Tuesday, including some of the 28-member crew that included 26 Chinese, one resident of the Philippines and a citizen of Latvia.

He would not comment on the specifics of the investigation, but said some of the passengers and crew could be charged with illegal transportation, smuggling and conspiracy.

INS agents found the immigrants last Thursday in a secret compartment of a cargo ship docked at the Savannah port. They are being held at jails in DeKalb and Fulton counties in the Atlanta area.

At least 45 of 132 Chinese men found hidden aboard the 40,000-ton cargo ship Prince Nicolas have asked for asylum, an INS spokeswoman said.

Spokeswoman Sue Brown said Monday that an asylum officer will interview applicants and make recommendations to an immigration judge.

Officials plan to deport the immigrants unless they request asylum, which is typically granted to people who can show they face injury or persecution if returned to their home country.

Man senteced for storing child pornography on computer

COLUMBIA -- A Clinton man has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison and three years of probation for storing child pornography on his home computer.

David E. Paulsen, 37, was investigated after a computer repair shop informed the FBI it had found images of children engaged in sexual acts while repairing Paulsen's computer, U.S. Attorney Rene Josey said.

The FBI, using a search warrant, found about 25,000 images, Josey said.

Paulsen admitted to receiving the material over the Internet and setting up a program so other computer users could access the images, Josey said.

Paulsen did not try to profit from the images and there was no evidence he had produced any of them, investigators said.


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