A former reserve officer with the Columbia County Sheriff’s Department has been indicted on theft charges.
A Richmond County grand jury returned a 59-count indictment Tuesday against seven people, including Michael Tracy Kerr.
According to Columbia County Sheriff Capt. Steve Morris, Kerr was fired for conduct unbecoming an officer in March after the department learned of the theft investigation in Augusta. Kerr had been a reserve officer since 2005.
Kerr, 50, the owner of Kerr Motors on Wrightboro Road, is named in only three counts of the indictment, although two of those charges allege Kerr stole property valued at greater than $25,000. According to the indictment, Kerr was supposed to make purchases at an auto auction for Southern Pick-A-Part on Doug Barnard Parkway.
The remaining counts of the indictment allege thefts from the company of 57 vehicles valued at between $1,500 and $5,000 between Jan. 1, 2011 and Dec. 17, 2012.
Authorities said the seven people were all part of a two-year “stolen automobile for cash” scheme that resulted in the theft of 104 cars from Southern Pik-A-Part. The warrants follow a nine-month embezzlement investigation by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, according to a police statement.
In addition to Kerr, police arrested Dennis Ray McDaniel, 49, of Martinez; Joshua Tyler McDaniel, 23, of Martinez; Jeffery Bernard Norris, 49, of Augusta; Christopher Brown, 36, of Augusta; and Timothy Len Bailey, 40, of Augusta, on felony charges of theft by taking.
Tammie Carlesha Johnson, 29, of Augusta, turned herself in Monday evening, jail records show.
Sgt. Shane McDaniel said the agency was notified of the scheme in December 2012 after a Southern Pik-A-Part audit found several vehicles missing from its inventory.
McDaniel said the sheriff’s office thinks the “junk cars” were being sold as parts and for their metal.
The investigation found that the cars were removed without permission of the company, and that the scheme was organized by employees and several businesses with licenses in Augusta, including two used car dealerships.
In addition to the stolen vehicles, police say more than $99,000 was taken over a period of 18 months.