Evans businessman sentenced to five years
An Evans businessman who prosecutors said used religion to help con victims of more than $3.6 million was sentenced Monday to five years in federal prison.
U.S. District Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. also ordered Johnny Lee Hollis Jr. to pay his victims back $3.63 million. Hollis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering.
Prosecutors said Hollis convinced his victims that he was a legitimate financial adviser and guaranteed 6 percent to 20 percent returns on investments.
One victim, a Georgia lottery winner, entrusted $2.8 million for Hollis to invest. The money is gone, the victim said, and the family lost their home and vehicles and owes $2 million in taxes they can't pay.
Several families that Hollis was accused of cheating attended the hearing. Many of his supporters came, too, including ministers and others who told the judge of Hollis' good deeds and character.
Hollis told the court he tried to help people who were less fortunate. He blamed the dot-com industry failure, the 9-11 terrorist attacks and the drop in the economy for the investment loss. He was arrested in April by federal agents at his residence in Westwood Club Apartments in Evans.
The judge said Hollis ran a Ponzi scheme, using people's money for himself, lying to them and writing bad checks to keep the scheme going. Hollis was instructed to report to prison Nov. 2. A correctional facility has not been assigned.
Greenbrier school employee arrested in Augusta robbery
Richmond County police quickly arrested a Greenbrier High School custodian suspected of robbing an Augusta bank Tuesday afternoon after spotting a man putting gas in a vehicle that witnesses had identified as the getaway car.
At 3:45 p.m., a man identified as Larry Joe Chadwick, 48, of Kissingbower Road, entered the Bank of America at 2820 Peach Orchard Road and gave a teller a note demanding cash, Richmond County sheriff's Lt. Scott Peebles said. The clerk gave the robber an undisclosed amount of money, he said.
Two employees watched the robber run from the south Augusta bank and get into a red 2007 Dodge Caliber, and they wrote down the license tag number.
A few minutes after the robbery, a sheriff's deputy spotted a car matching the description of the getaway car. The driver was pumping gas into the vehicle at a nearby gas station.
Chadwick was arrested after officers saw a large amount of money inside a black leather bag, police said. Peebles said no weapons were presented during the robbery and a red dye pack was not delivered with the stolen cash.
Chadwick was charged with one count of robbery by intimidation and is being held at the Richmond County jail.
Bank robbers sentenced to many years in prison
The leader of a bank robbery crew, which hit banks in South Carolina, Augusta and Columbia County, was sentenced Monday to 137 years in prison without the possibility of parole.
U.S. District Court Chief Judge William T. Moore Jr. sentenced Adrian Branham.
Federal agents charged Branham and three other South Carolina men with robbing at least five banks in South Carolina, one in Augusta, a Wachovia branch in Martinez and a CSRA Federal Credit Union in Evans in the spring of 2006.
The judge also sentenced Vincent Savageau to 248 months in prison; Demetrius T. Freeman to 260 months in prison; and Isaac Doby to 128 months in prison.
The following accounts were taken from reports filed with the Columbia County Sheriff's Office:
Dearing man is arrested on theft by taking charge
An employee of a Martinez luxury car dealership was arrested Tuesday after, deputies said, he took a car from the dealership without permission and wrecked it along Interstate 20.
Michael Trippany, 21, of the 4000 block of McCorkle Road in Dearing, is charged with theft by taking. He was released Wednesday from the Columbia County Detention Center on $5,100 bond.
A service manager for Jim Hudson Lexus on Washington Road told deputies that Trippany, an employee, called his boss Sept. 22 to inform them that he had wrecked a 2007 Lexus IS 250 along I-20 near the Grovetown exit. The vehicle had about $5,500 in damage.
The service manager said Trippany did not have permission to drive the vehicle.
Former employees accused in store thefts
A loss prevention manager at a Martinez retailer told deputies Monday that two former employees are suspected of taking thousands of dollars in cash from the store through fraudulent refunds.
The manager of Wal-Mart on Bobby Jones Expressway told deputies she suspects that the former employees used receipts they found to complete refunds between May and Sept. 5. The manager said the former employees, both women from Augusta, are suspected of taking $17,000 through fraudulent returns.
The manager could not provide the receipts to deputies at the time the report was taken.
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