Originally created 04/12/06

Across Georgia



Tax collections rise $1 billion over 2005

ATLANTA - Three-quarters into its current fiscal year, Georgia has collected $1 billion more in taxes than it did during the same period last year.

Revenue in March increased 6.5 percent over March 2005, according to a state Department of Revenue report released Monday. That is an increase of about $73.2 million.

And for fiscal year 2006, which ends June 30, collections are up 9.6 percent, or $1.028 billion, over the same period in 2005.

If the trend continues, the state will end the fiscal year with a surplus, officials said.

The state gets most of its revenue from income and sales taxes, and economists say their continued growth is a good sign for the economy.

Agents told to watch out for thug 'clients'

SANDY SPRINGS - Authorities are warning metro Atlanta real estate agents to watch out for thugs posing as potential clients.

A female agent with Remax of Greater Atlanta became suspicious Monday after a man entered the office in Sandy Springs, said he was a baseball player and asked her to show him a home. He took off after she became suspicious and contacted a male agent.

Gwinnett County police are looking into an earlier incident in which an agent told police she was abducted by a man posing as a client and forced to buy a watch in the Norcross area last week. In a third case, authorities are investigating a man who also said he was a former baseball player interested in seeing homes for sale.

Ex-defender charged with molesting boys

HAMILTON - A lawyer and former public defender has been arrested on charges of molesting two members of a boy's choir during a camping trip.

Richard Ogleby Smith, 61, was arrested Monday.

Mr. Smith, who served as Columbus' public defender from 1978 to 2001, has been charged with six counts of child molestation. He is accused of having inappropriate contact with two 12-year-old members of The Columbus Boy Choir at a state park in Pine Mountain last July.

Mr. Smith was acting as manager and supervisor of the camping trip, authorities said.

Clarke's sheriff fires chief of troubled jail

ATHENS - Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards fired his jail commander last week but hasn't explained why.

Sheriff Edwards notified employees of Chief Jailer Brett Hart's firing in a brief memorandum Friday:

Since being hired in January 2000, Mr. Hart ran a facility plagued with problems, from severe inmate overcrowding to a high turnover of jailers.

- Edited from wire reports