Teens receive probation on sex charges
Two Columbia County teens who were arrested last fall on felony sexual assault charges received probation at a hearing Tuesday in Juvenile Court.
Reginald Anthony Rice III, 18, of Grovetown, a standout Greenbrier High School football player, pleaded guilty to felony statutory rape as part of a negotiated plea agreement with the District Attorney's Office. Juvenile Court Judge Douglas J. Flanagan sentenced Rice to 24 months on probation and 56 hours of community service. The teen also must attend a sex education course and a decision-making discussion group.
Rice was indicted by a Superior Court grand jury in October in the rape of one girl and the aggravated child molestation of another; police said the incidents involved two 14-year-old girls and a 15-year-old girl, and took place at a building behind the home of a 16-year-old boy.
Shadrick M. Harris, 18, of Appling, was charged with three counts of aggravated child molestation. Both teens were also indicted on three counts of misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Harris admitted to misdemeanor sexual battery as part of the negotiated plea agreement.
Flanagan sentenced Harris to 12 months' probation and 48 hours of community service. He must attend a sex education course and a decision-making discussion group.
The charges stem from an incident Sept. 17-18. A parent of one of the girls reported the incident Sept. 26.
Those four juveniles also went before a Juvenile Court judge Tuesday; however, their court cases were not open to the public because of their ages.
Brush fire threatens homes, destroys car
A fire Wednesday afternoon in northern Columbia County burned a car, melted the siding on a mobile home and consumed much of a hayfield. No one was injured.
Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Gary Thigpen said a man was burning grass in a field near the Phinizy community when the blaze got out of control at about 1 p.m. It threatened two homes in the 7000 block of Moontown Road near Mistletoe State Park, but Georgia Forestry Commission chief ranger senior Steve Abbott was nearby taking part in a controlled burn and was able to cut a fire break through the brush, saving the homes from damage.
The heat melted the vinyl siding of a mobile home and destroyed a Hyundai Scoupe automobile.
Thigpen said about 40 hay bales were on fire in a 35-acre field at 2 p.m. and were not extinguished for several hours. The man who was burning grass was not cited.
The following accounts were taken from reports filed with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office:
Augusta men charged for machine break-ins
Three Augusta men were arrested early Wednesday, accused of committing a series of vending machine break-ins at several Martinez businesses.
Facing eight counts each of criminal damage to property and eight counts each of theft by taking are Benjamin Kevin Reddy, 19, of the 2000 block of Naples Drive, and Christopher Jermain Scott, 20, of the 2000 block of Old Savannah Road. Charles Leon Johnson II, 21, also of the 2000 block of Old Savannah Road, faces seven counts of criminal damage to property and seven counts of theft by taking.
Reddy and Scott are being held on $29,600 bond, and Johnson is being held on $25,900 bond at the Columbia County Detention Center.
Columbia County sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said at least eight reported vending machine break-ins have occurred since January in the Baston Road area.
"No one had witnessed anything up until the point a citizen called us (Wednesday morning)," Morris said. "We had very few leads to go on."
A man who lives at Aurora Associates, in the 3800 block of Washington Road, told sheriff's deputies he heard loud noises and several people speaking outside at about 1:30 a.m.
The man told police he looked outside and saw damage to the Pepsi machine in front of the business and a light-blue car turn toward Rose Lane.
Deputies caught up with a Nissan Maxima matching the description the witness had given and pulled it over.
While questioning the three men, deputies reported seeing a crowbar, a vending machine change container and parts of a vending machine inside the vehicle.
Appling man arrested in theft by deception
An Appling man was arrested on an outstanding warrant of theft by deception Tuesday night involving what police say was a check-depositing scheme.
Robert Blanchard Anderson, of the 6000 block of Washington Road, was being held Thursday morning without bond at the Columbia County Detention Center on a felony charge of theft by deception, sheriff's Capt. Steve Morris said.
Morris said investigators are looking into several check-bouncing incidents totaling thousands of dollars. Anderson had "an active account that was at zero balance or had a very low balance and he was making deposits into the account with bad checks," Morris said.
Morris said Anderson is under investigation in an additional check-bouncing scheme in which a Martinez man and an Evans man were the victims.
The Martinez man and Evans man told deputies that early Wednesday a friend had scammed them out of thousands of dollars by asking them to deposit checks that eventually bounced.
The two men told deputies that Anderson had said he was attending a cattle auction and needed to cash checks, but could not because his bank was closed. The men said Anderson persuaded them to deposit several checks into their bank accounts and then withdraw the money so he could purchase the cattle
The check-cashing arrangement reportedly continued from Feb. 21 until March 1, when the two men discovered the checks had bounced. The bounced checks totaled more than $3,600.
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