Originally created 01/17/04

Across the area



U.S. attorney resigns post

SAVANNAH - The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia in Savannah has resigned, effective Friday.

Rick Thompson tendered his resignation Jan. 9 and notified his staff Wednesday in a brief memo.

"I have decided that returning to the private practice of law is in the best interest of my family and myself at this point in my career," Mr. Thompson stated in the memo.

Mr. Thompson was appointed 26 months ago by President Bush.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Savannah has been conducting a grand jury investigation of former state Senate Majority Leader Charles W. Walker of Augusta for the past year.

Dan Drake, the spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Savannah, would not confirm the ongoing probe but said any investigation would not be affected by the resignation of the U.S. attorney.

2 people are arrested after police chase

Two people were arrested early Friday after leading Aiken County sheriff's authorities on a chase.

Authorities said Aiken County sheriff's Deputy Coley Wilson spotted a Ford Taurus that had been reported as stolen being driven on Jefferson Davis Highway at about 3:20 a.m. Friday. When he tried to pull the car over, it sped away. The deputy pursued the car to Storm Branch Road, where one of the people inside ditched the car and ran into the woods. Deputy Wilson captured the suspect in the woods. A search of the car turned up cocaine and marijuana, authorities said.

Lewis M. Wigfall, 24, of the 1000 block of Abbeville Avenue, Aiken, is charged with possession of cocaine, possession of crack cocaine, possession of marijuana, possession of stolen property, failure to stop for a blue light and grand larceny of more than $5,000.

A passenger, Melinda T. Simpkins, 33, of the 2000 block of Sassafras Road, Aiken, is charged with possession of crack cocaine and possession of stolen property.

Man follows relative of judge, steals car

A relative of a Richmond County Superior Court judge told authorities that she was followed by a man who forced her to give up her car at gunpoint Friday, officials said.

Ann Overstreet, a relative of Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet, told sheriff's deputies that at 9:30 a.m. she was followed by someone driving a blue or gray car, similar to a Toyota Camry or Avalon, said sheriff's Sgt. Scott Peebles.

After she pulled into the driveway of her west Augusta home, she said a man threatened her with a gun and took her 1999 Lexus LS400, Sgt. Peebles said. He said she was not hurt in the incident.

Investigator Blaise Dresser said Ms. Overstreet's Lexus is silver, with a Georgia Wildlife tag number of 48TZ9.

Anyone with information about this incident, the man or the whereabouts of Ms. Overstreet's vehicle is asked to call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office at 821-1080 or 821-1020. All information will be handled confidentially.

Three people face charges in burglary

Richmond County sheriff's investigators said Friday that three people thought to have taken more than $1,700 worth of furniture from an Augusta woman during the fall were arrested.

Sheriff's Sgt. Jimmy Vowell said Latesha Bess, Tiffany Cunningham and a 15-year-old girl were all charged with burglary. The 15-year-old is charged as a juvenile, and as such, authorities will not release her name.

Sgt. Vowell said a concerned relative of the 15-year-old, living in south Georgia, called investigators and said that her sister and an adult had broken into the house of Julia Davis McMillan, 72.

Ms. McMillan was not in the house at the time of the thefts, Sgt. Vowell said. He said investigators found that a 27-inch television set, coffee tables, bend tables, a portable heater and a curio set, among other items, had been taken.

Sgt. Vowell said the furniture was later recovered.

Men plead innocent in separate slayings

Two men accused in separate Augusta slayings pleaded not guilty before a Richmond County Superior Court judge Friday.

John E. McCoy, 39, charged in the March 29 death of 70-year-old Charles Johnson, and Cedrick Alexis Walker, 22, charged in the October death of 16-year-old Ramona Givens and her 6-week-old son, Tyler, entered their pleas before Judge William M. Fleming.

Mr. McCoy and a co-defendant, Clifford E. Cooper, are accused of robbing, beating and choking Mr. Johnson to death. Authorities alleged that the two left Mr. Johnson to die in his burning home on Emory Street.

Ms. Givens and Tyler were found dead Oct. 5 at their Gilbert Manor residence. Authorities required two autopsies on the victims' bodies before formally charging Mr. Walker in their deaths.

Three plead not guilty to robbery charges

Three men accused by police of participating in a botched bank robbery in December pleaded not guilty before a Richmond County judge Friday.

Steven Lucas Lovette, 24, of Augusta; Michael David Sequin, 25, of Hephzibah; and Timothy Wade Smith, 22, of Hephzibah, are charged with armed robbery, terroristic threats and acts and firearms violations.

Authorities said two of the three entered the SunTrust Bank branch at 2625 Peach Orchard Road and held up the bank. Officials said the men went to a side door and found that it was locked, and later shot the glass out of the door.

Police said they found the men in a green Buick Skylark, with Mr. Lovette and Mr. Sequin in the trunk.

Police impersonation suspects enter pleas

Three individuals accused of posing as Richmond County sheriff's narcotics investigators in October pleaded not guilty before a Richmond County judge Friday.

Ron Allen Jadallah, 23, of Augusta; James Woodrow William, 29, of Hephzibah; and Lindsey Amanda Tranum, 20, of Martinez, entered their pleas before Judge William M. Fleming.

Authorities said the three followed Johnny J. Hodges, 20, of Augusta, down Eve Street in a sport utility vehicle, pulled him over and searched his vehicle.

Mr. William and Ms. Tranum were released on bond after their arrest, but Mr. Jadallah is being held at the Richmond County jail, as he was on parole for a 2001 conviction of criminal attempt at armed robbery at the time of his arrest.

Suspect denies guilt in home invasion

A man accused by authorities in a November home invasion pleaded not guilty before a Richmond County Superior Court judge Friday afternoon.

James Brandon Pruin is accused of participating in the invasion of Michael P. Ansley's Savannah West apartment.

Authorities said Mr. Pruin came to Mr. Ansley's apartment on a Saturday night, and after Mr. Ansley entered, two unknown men forced their way in and pointed a revolver at him.

The three men punched and kicked Mr. Ansley, then dragged him to a bedroom, where they tied his hands and feet with rope and stole more than $2,000, a police incident report states.

Police arrest student found with box cutter

A Richmond Academy student was arrested after officials found that he had a box cutter while on school property Thursday, a police incident report states.

Ricky D. Watts, 17, was charged with carrying or possessing a weapon on school property and was booked into the Richmond County jail, jail records state.

A sheriff's office report said that a school official found a box cutter in Mr. Watts' pants pocket.

Two instruments were taken from band room

A T.W. Josey High School official told Richmond County sheriff's deputies that a pair of youths entered the school's band room and took a trumpet and a trombone.

The official said that, at 4:50 p.m. Wednesday, the two entered the unlocked band room and took the items. He said other students tried to retrieve the instruments, but one of the youths taking them pulled a black handgun from his pocket and cocked it back.

The official said that, when he approached the pair, they gave the instruments back and said they were only playing. The students trying to retrieve the instruments from the pair said the gun appeared to be a toy.

Fort Gordon to enforce seat belt regulations

Fort Gordon military police will operate random traffic control points through Monday to enforce seat belt regulations, according to the post's public affairs office.

Those who violate the seat belt regulation will receive a citation from the military police, but the control points will be well marked so that motorists can quickly find them, a news release states.

The traffic operation will continue through Monday. For more information, call 791-4380.