Originally created 03/24/01

Across the area



COLUMBIA COUNTY
Students charged in fake-drug scam

Two 14-year-old Lakeside High School students were arrested Friday on school grounds in connection with what police say was a scheme to sell antibiotics to other classmates - passing them off as the street drug ecstacy.

One of the juveniles was charged with unlawful distribution of an imitation controlled substance, and the other was charged with possession of an imitation controlled substance with the intent to distribute, said Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris. Neither of the teen's names were released because of their ages.

Capt. Morris said the arrests occurred around 11:30 a.m. after police found three prescription antibiotic tablets. He said the two 14-year-olds had been attempting to sell the antibiotics to classmates.

The two were taken to the Regional Youth Detention Center and now await a detention hearing.

AUGUSTA
Police arrest woman in stabbing

Police arrested an Augusta woman Friday and charged her in the stabbing of a woman who was attempting to break up a fight, a Richmond County Sheriff's Office major said.

Officers arrested Naima Williams, 26, of the 1100 block of Emmett Street and charged her with one felony count of aggravated assault, Maj. Ken Autry said.

He said the incident occurred March 14 when Tonya Sims, 25, of the 1100 block of Kent Street, stepped in between her roommate and Ms. Williams, who were fighting over a stereo.

Ms. Sims was cut twice on her back and taken to Medical College of Georgia Hospital, where she received stitches and was released the same day, Maj. Autry said.

AUGUSTA
Officers identify wanted man

Authorities released the identity Friday of one of three men wanted in the beating and robbery of a Martinez man last week.

The suspect, William Christopher Newsome, and two unidentified men met Dennis Hwang during a night of drinking March 17, said Richmond County Sheriff's Office Investigator Paul Godden.

He said the three men persuaded Mr. Hwang to let one of them drive his 1995 silver Ford Taurus. The men then drove to an isolated section of Goodrich Street Extension, where police say Mr. Hwang was beaten and robbed before the men fled in his car.

Anyone with information about the incident or Mr. Newsome's whereabouts can call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 821-1080.

AUGUSTA
Shooting leads to 12-year jail term

A 22-year-old Augusta man who fired into a car with several people, one of whom was wounded, pleaded guilty Friday and received a 12-year prison sentence.

Rodericus Stringer, 22, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to two counts of aggravated assault. He was the gunman in a Sept. 10 drive-by shooting that wounded Lucius Robinson. A second suspect, Grady Rhodes, 22, also pleaded guilty Friday to the reduced charge of hindering the apprehension of a criminal.

Mr. Rhodes, who was driving the vehicle, did not know his passenger, Mr. Stringer, had a gun. Mr. Rhodes received a five-year probation sentence.

EDGEFIELD COUNTY
Cut gas line prompts evacuation

Workers at an Edgefield County plant were evacuated for several hours Friday after a heavy equipment operator accidentally severed a natural gas line.

The incident happened shortly before 2 p.m. at Southern Felt on U.S. Highway 25. Emergency crews responded and immediately evacuated two dozen employees. Residents who lived behind the building also were told to temporarily leave their homes as a precaution, said Capt. Roger Lowe of the Edgefield County Sheriff's Office.

Police also rerouted traffic for nearly an hour. No one was injured in the incident.

Plant employees were allowed back into the building after emergency crews said it was safe for them to return. A search of the building found no harmful contaminants, Capt. Lowe said.

AIKEN
Injured teacher returns to class

An Aiken County special education teacher who was assaulted by one of her pupils is back at work with a splint around her hand.

The boy injured his teacher, Aleigshe Niccole Evans, on Monday morning after someone else already had restrained him, authorities said. She apparently was on the floor trying to talk with the 7-year-old when he intentionally stepped on her hand.

J.D. Lever Elementary School Principal Renee Mack said the teacher was taken to Aiken Regional Medical Centers. Authorities originally thought her hand was broken, but now they say it is sprained. She returned to the classroom the next day.

An Aiken County Sheriff's report said the boy "became uncontrollable in the classroom and, according to teachers, threw chairs, desks and other objects around the room."

School officials have recommended that the boy be expelled.

AIKEN
Forces unite to capture suspect

FBI agents and Aiken County deputies joined forces to arrest a fugitive wanted in Illinois for defrauding a bank, authorities said Friday.

Donald E. Oliver, 50, of Kedron Church Road, was arrested without incident at his home Thursday afternoon and charged with forgery, said sheriff's Lt. Michael Frank.

Mr. Oliver was being held Friday in the Aiken County Detention Center pending an extradition hearing.

AUGUSTA
Woman's attackers go to prison

Two of four young men who attacked an Augusta woman at a gas station last fall began five-year prison sentences Friday.

Derrick W. Natoli, 21, and Jeremy Mathis, 20, pleaded guilty in Richmond County Superior Court to charges of terrorist threats and trespass, and reckless conduct against a person and criminal damage to property, respectively.

The two took part in an assault on an Augusta woman after she pulled into a Washington Road gas station Aug. 5. Wendy Hughes told the judge that she had never seen the four young men who began pounding on her car. One of the men stabbed her in the arm, and as she fled, driving to Doctors Hospital, one of the men chased her in a vehicle at a high speed.

Mr. Natoli blamed the stabbing on Jared A. Johnson, 21, who died just weeks after the assault. But Ms. Hughes said Mr. Natoli was the man who stabbed her. Mr. Mathis admitted he pursued Ms. Hughes' vehicle, but said he only wanted to know what was going on and why she had sprayed Mace at him and his friends.

Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet sentenced Mr. Natoli to serve five years in prison followed by one year on probation. The judge sentenced Mr. Mathis, who also pleaded guilty Friday to drug charges, to serve five years in prison followed by three years on probation.

A fourth defendant, Donald E. Royal, had his felony charge reduced to a misdemeanor offense.

AUGUSTA
Fund-raising dance set for ill boy

Ellis Street between Eighth and Ninth streets will turn into an open-air dance floor starting at noon today.

The event is a fund-raiser in the campaign to raise $100,000 for Augustan Aaron Booher, a 13-year-old cystic fibrosis patient who is on the list to get a double lung transplant. Aaron's supporters have raised about $75,000.

A gang of bands and musicians, including Team Tacos, Loud House, Gear Box, Jemani and Alvin Franklin, will provide the musical inspiration to patrons.

All proceeds will benefit Aaron's campaign, called COTA for Aaron. For more information, call 794-5819.

Ellis Street between Eighth and Ninth streets will be closed to traffic between noon and 9 p.m. Officials advise motorists to use Broad or Greene streets as detours.

GEORGIA
Delta pilots accept arbitration

ATLANTA -Delta Air Lines accepted an offer of binding arbitration from federal mediators Thursday in the company's contract dispute with its pilots.

Under the offer, which has not been accepted by the Air Line Pilots Association, arbitrators would settle all unresolved issues.

Gregg Holm, a spokesman for the pilots union, said its master executive council would meet next week to decide whether to accept the offer.

The Air Line Pilots Association represents all of Delta's nearly 10,000 pilots.