December 12, 2022
Meriwether County Sheriff Chuck Smith reported that his administrative command was contacted by the administration of the Meriwether County Board of Commission regarding information received pertaining to theft of county property. A lengthy investigation into this matter resulted in the arrest of three Meriwether County Public Works Employees.
“During the end of August 2022 and the first part of September 2022, two of our Meriwether County Commissioners along with a Meriwether County BOC Administrator received separate but almost identical anonymous letters indicating that unnamed employees of the Meriwether County Public Works Department were taking property belonging to Meriwether County. At that time the Meriwether County BOC Administrator who received one of the letters contacted my administrative command requesting a criminal investigation. The information provided was not specific which required a covert operation that involved our personnel in conjunction with select county administrative personnel to be observant of various county work projects being done. Our personnel began conducting physical and electronic surveillance based on information that was received from county administrative personnel. Through the course of the investigation, we were able to identify several county employees as being involved in the theft of county property and equipment.” Sheriff Chuck Smith said.
“On October 25, 2022, our personnel were able to locate a tandem dump truck, property of Meriwether County being operated in Harris County, Ga. This vehicle was supposed to have been getting work completed on it, however it was being utilized without authority for personal gain. Our personnel were able to get assistance from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office who maintained visual contact of the vehicle until our personnel could arrive in the area. Our personnel responded to Kennon Road, Fortson, Ga. and recovered the tandem axle dump truck being the property of Meriwether County. Our personnel arrested the truck operator Curtis Lamar Johnson, B/M, 48 years old, of Pine Mountain, Ga., who was employed by the Meriwether County Public Works Department. Johnson was transported to the Meriwether County Jail and charged with one count of Felony Theft by Conversion. The value of the recovered dump truck is valued at $72,000.00 dollars. Johnson posted bond in the amount of $72,000.00.
On October 28, 2022, our personnel arrested on a warrant Kervin Brian Ferguson, B/M, 54 years of age, of Manchester, Ga., who was employed by the Meriwether County Public Works Department. The investigation revealed that Ferguson removed 7 tandem loads of road millings being stored on and the property of the Meriwether County. These events occurred on and between August 2022 and September 2022. The value of the stolen property was valued at $2,450.00. Ferguson was booked into the Meriwether County Jail on one count of Felony Theft by Taking. Ferguson posted a bond in the amount of $4,900.00.
On October 31, 2022, our personnel arrested on a warrant Robert Lewis Russell, B/M, 25 years of age of Greenville, Ga., who was employed by the Meriwether County Public Works Department. The investigation revealed that Russell removed 8 ½ tandem loads of gravel and 1 tandem load of sand from the Meriwether County Public Works Department. Russell was booked into the Meriwether County Jail on one count of Felony Theft by Taking and one count of Misdemeanor Theft by Taking. The value of the stolen property was $3,497.00. Russell posted bond in the amount of $8,436.00.
During the investigation our personnel were able to locate and recover approximately 8 tandem loads of stolen gravel being the property of Meriwether County. The gravel was recovered on a piece of property located off Hwy 100 on Willie Price Road, Greenville, Ga. The recovered equipment and property were returned to the Meriwether County Road Department.
I appreciate the work done by our criminal investigation division with the assistance of the Meriwether County BOC administrative and support personnel in this case investigation. It was critical that we all were able to collaborate and work covertly to uncover these thefts with the limited information that was available. If anyone has any information related to this case investigation concerning stolen property belonging to Meriwether County contact our investigators, (706) 672-6651. This case investigation is active.” Sheriff Smith advised.