Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Woman for Food Stamp Fraud

Carol I. Rogers

Carol I. Rogers

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has arrested and charged a Seneca woman with four counts of food stamp fraud.

44 year old Carol I. Rogers of 110-A Pressley Place in Seneca was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:40pm yesterday and her total personal recognizance bond amount is $10,000, which was set this morning.

The Sheriff’s Office received a telephone call on January 21st where a complainant told deputies that on November 25th, 2013 she was arrested and had left her purse, wallet and coat at the Pressley Place address. The complainant was released on January 3rd. The complainant asked the resident, Rogers, about her belongings and Rogers stated to her that she did not have the items any longer. According to the incident report, the complainant told deputies that her EBT card was in her wallet and that she had called and the card had been used on multiple occasions while she was in jail. The complainant was advised at that time to call social services and get statements showing the charges. An investigation into the allegations ensued.

During the course of the investigation and the interviewing of witnesses, it was determined that Rogers, according to warrants, had used the complainants EBT card unlawfully and did convert the card to her own use on December 30th, 2013 and on January 5th, January 6th, and January 7th of this year at the Wal-Mart location on Sandifer Boulevard in Seneca.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation

2014 Upstate Recognition Ride Scheduled for May 10th in Anderson County

Recognition Ride flyer revised 4-2014

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla,SC)—————————————The 2014 Upstate Recognition Ride, sponsored by the Upstate SC Defenders Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, is scheduled for Saturday, May 10th. The proceeds from the ride will be utilized to award scholarships to children of Upstate First Responders. The public is invited to attend.

The event will begin with a procession of motorcycles, fire trucks, ambulances, and law enforcement vehicles that will leave the Anderson Civic Center around 3:15pm. The ride will take the participants through Anderson and into Williamston for a ceremony and live music. Registration will take place from 1pm until 3pm but those are participating in the procession are asked to arrive at the Civic Center no later than 2:30pm.

There is no entry fee for emergency vehicles and seperate parking will be utilized for any emergency vehicles so those vehicles can leave at any time from Williamston. For those who are riding motorcycles, there is a registration fee of $25.

Festivities will begin at Mineral Springs Park in Williamston around 4pm with Twist of Fate performing and a ceremony which is set to begin around 5pm which will feature the Anderson Sheriff’s Office Honor Guard, the Anderson City FD Color Guard, and the Spartanburg Detention Center Drill Team, along with the singing of our National Anthem. Food, beverages, exhibitions, raffles and door prizes will also be offered as well.

Last year’s recognition ride was held on June 1st.

Free Boater Education Class Upcoming in Oconee County

Boater Ed Class

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla,SC)————————————With National Safe Boating Week and the summer boating season around the corner, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will be hosting a free boaters education class a few weeks from now.

The class will be held on Saturday, May 3rd from 8am until 1pm at Foothills Community Church which is located at 505 Bountyland Road in Seneca.

Preregistration is required and can be done by going online www.dnr.sc.gov or by calling 1-800-277-4301.

All resident and non-resident boaters under 16 years of age must successfully complete a boater education class that is approved by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources before operating without supervision a personal watercraft (jet ski) or a boat powdered 15 hp motor or more.

The students who attend will be taught the fundamentals of safe and responsible boating and the class is informative in its efforts to reduce loss of life, personal injury and property damage. Each student is urged to be on time and to bring a pen or pencil.

Once again, the class is free to the public.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Warns Citizens to be Aware of Scams

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is warning its citizens to be aware of potential scams that prey in many cases on the most trusting of victims and can cost you hundreds and in some cases thousands of dollars.

Even though scams can target any segment of the population of the county, many scams target senior citizens, due to the fact that seniors often have better financial resources and because of differences between generations.

“Seniors are more of a trusting generation,” according to Sgt. Justin Ward of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office, who often investigates cases of scams and frauds. “They are more likely to believe what people are telling them whereas perhaps younger people are more skeptical because of the culture they grew up in.”

Many of the scams have their own unique names and characteristics, but there are some similarities with the scams and there are some scams that investigators see more than others, such as calls from out of the country using an 876 area code, for example, with individuals on the line having an accent. Also, fake loan companies roam the internet, under the derivative of being legitimate company, even naming themselves with a name that is similar to a legitimate company.

“With many of the scams, they always want some type of money up front,” says Investigator Ward. “Once they get you to give a little bit of money, they will continue whatever they have come up with to keep getting you to give them money. A lot of them want Western Union or Money Grams because they can pick those up pretty quick and they are all over the place.”

“A lot of them like the pre-paid money cards” continues Investigator Ward. “They will tell you to put $300 on this Green Dot Card to cover this and then once they have those numbers on the Green Dot Card, they take the money out and it is gone. The scammers always come up with some kind of story that gets you hooked and then the story is going to change.”

With the calls that come from out of the country, many times those individuals are out of reach of the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and being out of the country, even though charges could be filed, it is still difficult to apprehend those perpetrators.

There are some steps that individuals can take to protect themselves, according to Investigator Ward:

1) Be wary of the 876 area code.
2) Be wary of any business that wants you to e-mail them personal information, such as to obtain loans. Most businesses will have forms that a person can fill out online.
3) Be wary of anyone who asks for Green Dot Card or any type of prepaid card to pay for fees. A legitimate business is going to have a way to obtain money without going through a middle man.
4) Institutions should not ask for your personal information, such as social security numbers and routing and transit numbers, because your personal bank, for example, should have that information. If an individual calls from a bank, for example, and says they need to verify your social security number, you should ask for their name and operating number and then call the bank yourself to see if it is legitimate. The bigger banks will normally recognize the number that you call from and they will then ask you to verify who you are by the last four digits of your social security number or your mailing address or zip code.
5) As always, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Besides the scams, fraud is another problem that affects many of the citizens of Oconee County, with the individuals committing the fraud being those who know the victims well or those they don’t. Investigator Ward says the fraud cases where the victim knows the person committing the fraud is the easiest to solve, because they may know the victim as well as the victim knows them, with many of them being family members. Credit and debit card fraud ranks high, with many individuals using the cards in some cases and then putting them back.

“It is hard to know when those credit and debit card numbers are compromised,” continues Investigators Ward. “People use cards so many places and the statistics say it is going to be used within a week of being compromised. Sometimes you can track it down and sometimes you can’t. The fraud with people you know is going to be fairly local, while the fraud with the ones you don’t normally is done far away.”

In regards to counterfeit bills, that issue comes and goes in streaks, according to Investigators Ward. Most of the issues with counterfeit bills come from individuals who have or purchase ink jet printers and who scan or print. Some counterfeit bills can be high quality bills, according to Ward, which normally comes from other parts of the country and some other parts of the world and makes it way to Oconee County.

As part of its efforts, the Sheriff’s Office will be uploading video’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus concerning scams and frauds from the National Crime Prevention Council during the next few weeks to warn citizens on what to look for and how to prevent being the victim of scams and frauds.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Central Man on Weapons Charges

Brandon Scott Weatherly

Brandon Scott Weatherly

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Central man last Friday on weapons charges in relation to a road rage incident that occurred back in March.

25 year old Brandon Scott Weatherly, whose address according to warrants is 2254 Lemon Tree Lane in York, SC, has been charged with two counts of pointing and presenting a firearm at a person. Weatherly address, according to Oconee County Detention Center, is listed as 3220 Refuge Road in Central.

According to deputies, an officer responded to the Highway 123 by-pass in regards to reports of a reckless driver presenting a firearm back on March 14th around 8:15pm. The deputy met up with the vehicles involved near the Paws Diner and attempted to catch up, but the suspect’s vehicle had left the scene. The complainant advised the deputy the suspect’s vehicle was turning onto Highway 93. The deputy caught up the vehicle at the intersection of Perimeter Road at Highway 93 on the Clemson University campus. The deputy notified dispatch to contact the Clemson University Police Department, who arrived afterwards, made a traffic stop, and eventually arrested Weatherly on charges of driving under the influence, according to the incident report.

The deputy was advised by the complainant that the suspect, Weatherly, who was the driver of the other vehicle, had pointed a firearm at them due to a road rage incident that had happened earlier in the roadway. The deputy then met back up with the Clemson University Police units, who seized a firearm during the traffic stop of Weatherly vehicle. The gun and ammunition was taken back to the Oconee County Detention Center and stored in evidence.

Weatherly turned himself into the Walhalla Police Department last Friday and was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 9:40am last Friday.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Seeks Public’s Help Regarding Weekend Armed Robbery

Case # 1413505 J&Z 2

Case # 1413505 J&Z 3

Case # 1413505 J&Z 4

Case # 1413505 J&Z 5

Case # 1413505 J&Z 6

Case # 1413505 J&Z

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in locating two women who robbed a convenience store over the weekend.

Deputies were dispatched to the J & Z Food Mart at 219 Shiloh Road around 11:14pm Saturday in reference to a robbery. An employee of the store told deputies that two women entered the store and robbed it.

According to investigators, one female was in her 40’s or 50’s and was wearing shorts,had gray hair and was wearing a hoodie. The second female is in her 30’s and was wearing a mask and had on dark pants.

According the investigators, the younger of the two women was brandishing a handgun. Both women were 5’3” to 5’5” in height and were both white. The suspects made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

If you have any information concerning the Saturday evening robbery at J & Z Food Mart on Shiloh Road near Seneca, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 864-638-STOP, 1-888-CRIME-SC, or text in your tip to 274637. You don’t have to give your name and if you tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Increasing Presence at Schools

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————–With recent and past instances of violence in schools around the country and reckless driving in school zones, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is taking two important steps in increasing its presence around schools in the county.

One of those steps involves a new policy approved by Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw that would allow off-duty officers to take their children to school in their patrol vehicles.

“We have received reports of reckless driving in our school zones during the morning drop offs and afternoon pickups,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “In an effort to increase our presence at the least cost possible, I have approved a policy to all off-duty officers to transport their children to school.”

The off-duty officers will not be on the clock unless they have to fulfill a role that requires law enforcement duties. Once there, those deputies will be observing traffic flows and looking for any drivers that are placing others in danger. Those off-duty officers will cite offenders who break laws in the school zones, such as speeding and not stopping for school buses who have their stop signs out. Each deputy is required to have all of their law enforcement equipment in the vehicle in order to be prepared should an incident occur during these times.

The second step is a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the School District of Oconee County that will allow deputies access to the wireless networks at all of the public schools in the county, which will allow those officers to stop by and do work at the school, such as filling out incident reports.

“This partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the School District will allow our on duty officers to complete their reports at the school instead of coming to the Sheriff’s Office,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “This will allow us to keep our officers in their assigned areas to complete necessary paperwork and reduce response times to emergencies.”

As time moves forward, according to Sheriff Crenshaw, the School District is hoping to identify any available space at the public schools where our deputies could meet with citizens that live in that area instead of that person having to drive to the Law Enforcement Center to meet with the deputy at the Sheriff’s Office.

With the increased law enforcement presence, Sheriff Crenshaw says that deputies do not want to alarm citizens, but be proactive to protect students, parents, guardians, teachers, and administrators.

“Citizens of Oconee County should not be alarmed if they see a law enforcement vehicle at the school,” says Sheriff Crenshaw. “When it comes to school safety, we want to be as proactive as possible to prevent something tragic from occurring. Students should feel safe at school and parents and guardians need to know that law enforcement is there if something happens. If it deters or prevents just one incident from occurring, our mission would be a success.”

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Files Multiple Charges against Townville Man Involved in Chase Thursday Morning

Curtis Justin Bearden

Curtis Justin Bearden

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————————-The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has filed multiple charges against a Townville area man as the result of a report of a stolen vehicle on Wednesday evening and a police chase that occurred Thursday morning.

27 year old Curtis Justin Bearden of 231 Woolbright Circle in Townville was arrested during the lunch hour Thursday afternoon on Sitton Shoals Road and Sleepy Hollow Drive after deputies received word of a suspicious person on Highway 59 at Sam Brown Road. Deputies initially responded to reports of a stolen vehicle at an address on Burnt Tanyard Road around 9:55pm Wednesday. Bearden led an Oconee County Sheriff’s Deputy on a chase Thursday morning after a deputy saw a vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle in the Bountyland Community. The chase eventually ended up on Dave Nix Road at Sam Brown Road when Bearden fled the scene.

In regards to the events involving the stolen vehicle, warrants charge Bearden with Petit Larceny and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle. As a result of the chase that occurred, Bearden is charged in warrants with Failure to Stop for a Blue Light after the deputy attempted to pull Bearden over, for Assault and Battery of a High and Aggravated Nature for ramming the deputies patrol vehicle in an attempt to flee, for Unlawful Carrying of a Pistol and Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime after deputies found a handgun that was in the vehicle that was stolen by Bearden, for damages to a tree at a residence located at the intersection of Dave Nix Road and Sam Brown Road after Bearden collided with a poplar tree as a result of the pursuit, and for Driving Under Suspension. Bearden, according to warrants, has three prior convictions for DUS in the past ten years.

Bearden also was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine that was found on his person during his arrest yesterday.

Bearden also had two outstanding warrants, one for use of a vehicle without the owner’s consent from February 11th and a bench warrant for Driving under Suspension from January 28th. Bearden also had an arrest warrant from April 7th for violation of his probation.

Bearden was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 12:40pm yesterday and is still in custody at this time.

Youth Fishing Rodeo Coming Up in May in Oconee County

Piedmont Forestry_Fishing Rodeo

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)——————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is among several sponsors that are inviting parents and guardians to bring their children 12 years old and under to this year’s Youth Fishing Rodeo, which will be held on Saturday, May 17th from 8am until 1pm at the Piedmont Forestry Center, located at 115 Piedmont Nursery Roads in Tamassee.
The event is free and pre registration is available by going online to www.dnr.sc.gov/aquaticed/rodeos or by calling 803-737-8483. Registration will take place the day of the event starting at 8am, which fishing scheduled from 9am until 11:30am. Refreshments will be served from 11:30am until Noon.
Make sure your child brings their fishing equipment and the event will be handicap accessible. No adults will be allowed to fish. Prizes will also be awarded as well.
For additional information, call 864-654-1671 and then dial extension 18 when prompted to do so.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Suspect Sought after Early Morning Chase

Curtis Justin Bearden

Curtis Justin Bearden

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)—————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is has arrested a Townville area man around lunchtime today that deputies were seeking after an early morning chase in Oconee County.

According to deputies, officers were dispatched to Highway 59 at Sam Brown Road due to reports of a suspicious person around 11:48am today described as having a shaved head, wearing no shoes, a black tank top and dark pants. Deputies were unable to locate this individual and continued to patrol the area. A short time later, deputies found the suspicious person, identified as 27 year old Curtis Justin Bearden of 231 Woolbright Circle in Townville, in the area of Sitton Shoals Road and Sleepy Hollow Drive about a mile away from the initial call around 12 Noon. Bearden will be transported to the Oconee County Detention Center.

In the events leading up to Bearden’s arrest today, an Oconee County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to 326 Burnt Tanyard Road in West Union due to a report of a stolen vehicle around 9:55pm last night. According to witnesses on the scene on Burnt Tanyard Road, Bearden reportedly took the stolen vehicle in question. The deputy was traveling on Highway 28 towards Seneca around 5:30am this morning when the vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle turned onto Highway 28 from Highway 188 in the Bountyland Community. The vehicle was a 1996 Chevrolet Geo Tracker which was silver in color.

The deputy attempted a traffic stop on Highway 28 but the vehicle did not pull over and sped away at a high rate of speed and a chase ensued. The deputy pursued the vehicle along Memorial Drive across Highway 123 onto North Radio Station Road and then onto Wells Highway. From there, the chase continued along South Radio Station Road to Radisson Road and turned onto Dave Nix Road. Speeds during the chase, according to the deputy, reached speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. The deputy in pursuit maintained radio contact with his supervisor and dispatch as the chase progressed.

The deputy reports that the suspect, Bearden, tried to turn onto Sam Brown Road and then lost control of the vehicle. The deputy’s and the suspect’s vehicle then went off the road at the intersection of Sam Brown Road and Dave Nix Road. According to the deputy, the suspect’s vehicle turned around and struck the deputy’s patrol car, then struck it for a second time in the driver’s side. It was during this time that the deputy was able to identify that Bearden was the driver of the stolen vehicle.

Bearden then fled from his vehicle and the deputy chased Bearden but was unable to locate the suspect. The deputy returned to his vehicle and waited for other units to arrive, including other deputies from the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office as well as the Seneca Police Department. According to the deputy, Bearden left his identification in the stolen vehicle.

The deputy whose vehicle was struck sustained no serious injuries and was checked out on scene by paramedics from Oconee Medical Center.