Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Continues to Warn Citizens about Several Scams

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office continues to warn citizens of scams that could potentially cost our citizens their money and perhaps their personal information.

“The job of a scammer is to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week to figure out a way to take your hard earned money from you,” says Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt. “We have issued numerous press releases in the last three and a half years warning our citizens of various kinds of scams and I have met twice in the last several months with our media partners to help educate our citizens on what to look for. Scammers never take a break and therefore, we cannot let down our guard either.”

The Sheriff’s Office continues to hear about various kinds of scams, including threats of arrest by scammers calling claiming to be agents of the Internal Revenue Service to scammers calling business owners claiming to be representing Duke Energy and saying that their utility service will be cut off due to an overdue power bill to individuals stopping by and speaking with local residence, saying they are a security company working with the Sheriff’s Office and trying to sell free security systems with the only requirement being a monthly fee.

Also, PIO Watt was notified by a citizen of a scam recently in which a citizen received a letter in the mail claiming that the citizen had won $1.56 million dollars and all that was required for the citizen to claim their money was to return a documentation acceptance form verifying their name and address and to enclose $20 either in cash, a check or a money order.

“In regards to individuals saying that we at the Sheriff’s Office are working with their security company to provide free security systems, the Sheriff’s Office does not endorse nor work with any private security businesses in this way,” according to P.I.O. Watt. “We do not make any recommendations in regards to an inquiry from individuals regarding services that a private business provides. The decision to purchase a home or security system is left up to the home or business owner. Once again, as we have said, if an offer sounds too good to be true, more often than not it is.”

The Sheriff’s Office is recommending that if citizens receive a call from someone who is trying to scam them to “Just Hang Up” and do not provide any financial or personal information. If an individual calls from an organization or a business and says that you owe money and you think it is a scam, then simply hang up and contact that business or organization to verify that they have tried to contact you regarding a past due bill or money owed.

“Many of the scams that affect our citizens originate from outside Oconee County,” continues PIO Watt. “With that said, if the scam does not originate from inside Oconee County, then prosecution by the Sheriff’s Office is virtually impossible. Also, if a scam occurs outside of the United States, then prosecution by the Federal Government is virtually impossible. The best way to put scammers out of business is not to be a victim and to educate yourself on what scammers do and how they do it.”

As the Sheriff’s Office has done in previous press releases, we would like to offer these tips to help you not become a victim of a scam. These tips include some new ones at the very beginning that the Sheriff’s Office has not shared before:

• Individuals who would like to report IRS scams are asked to go online to the website of the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration at www.tigta.gov and look for the yellow box at the top of the page. That box contains information on I.R.S. scams, including a link that will allow you to fill out a report if you have received an I.R.S. scam calls. If you owe back taxes, the IRS will send you a notice by mail but never call you directly. You can also contact the Internal Revenue Service directly to check the validity of the claims as you have a right to appeal.
• Also, citizens can Google a phone number they receive to see if that phone number has been associated with fraudulent activity. Scammers use a technique called Caller I.D. spoofing to make it appear that they are calling from a legitimate number. It is normally a good idea never to call the number back that the scammer gives you or the phone number that appears on your caller id. By calling back or providing other information, such as your address, could potentially open you up to be scammed more.
• Scammers will often become angry if you question their actions and will often times play on your emotions and fears. Do not allow them to do this. Take a deep breath and calm down and understand what is going on.
• Legitimate businesses will never ask or demand that payment be made with a prepaid card. This is a sure sign of a scam. Once the PIN number of a prepaid card is given, the scammers can access the funds on that card and it is virtually impossible to recover those funds.
• In regards to disconnection of utilities for a home or business, those customers will receive a notification in advance that their utilities are being disconnected, sometimes in one’s power bills. There will never be a notification that one’s utilities will be disconnected within an hour’s time, for example.
• In regards to various law enforcement scams that the Sheriff’s Office has heard about, law enforcement officers do have the right to arrest individuals with outstanding warrants. However, law enforcement officers will not contact anyone saying that arrest warrants will be recalled if someone pays a fine over the phone. There is also a scam that has occurred in which citizens are called by individuals claiming to be law enforcement saying that the citizens have missed court and need to pay a fine over the phone or risk being arrested. All fines for warrants or traffic tickets or court fines will not be handled by a law enforcement officer but will be handled by the court.
• Never provide any personal or financial information to individuals either personally or claiming to be calling from a business or organization. This includes dates of birth or social security numbers or account numbers, for example. Businesses and organizations that you deal with have all of that information already.
• As always, if an offer sounds too good to be true, more often than not, it is and if you feel uncomfortable in anyway with an offer you receive or you see some red flags, don’t respond in any way whatsoever, ignore it, don’t respond and “Just Hang Up.”

Duke Energy, County Officials to test sirens near Oconee Nuclear Station

Siren tests scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 17, and Wednesday, Aug. 24
No public action required

Oconee Nuclear Station

Oconee Nuclear Station

Release Courtesy of Chris Rimel
Duke Energy

SENECA, S.C. – The 65 sirens within 10 miles of Oconee Nuclear Station will be tested as
part of new software installations. Sirens are expected to sound for three minutes only, but
may be sounded several times as testing progresses. Testing is expected to begin at 11:50
a.m. Please refer to the following schedule:

Wednesday, Aug. 17 – Oconee County sirens

Wednesday, Aug. 24 – Pickens County sirens

These upcoming siren tests are in addition to the quarterly scheduled siren tests that occur
throughout the year. Siren testing is performed in cooperation with emergency officials in
Oconee and Pickens counties, who are responsible for sounding the sirens.

Hearing a siren does not mean to evacuate. In an emergency, sirens are sounded as a
signal for residents to tune to a local radio or TV station that would carry an emergency
alerting message. County officials use these stations to provide information to the public. If
sirens are heard and residents are unsure if it is a test or an emergency, they should tune to
their local radio or TV station.

For more information about the public alert notification sirens, residents can refer to the
information available on Duke Energy’s emergency preparedness page.

Duke Energy Carolinas

Duke Energy Carolinas owns nuclear, coal-fired, natural gas, renewables and hydroelectric
generation. That diverse fuel mix provides approximately 19,600 megawatts of owned electric
capacity to about 2.5 million customers in a 24,000-square-mile service area of North
Carolina and South Carolina.

Duke Energy is one of the largest electric power holding companies in the United States. Its
regulated utility operations serve approximately 7.4 million electric customers located in six
states in the Southeast and Midwest, representing a population of approximately 24 million
people. Its Commercial Portfolio and International business segments own and operate
diverse power generation assets in North America and Latin America, including a growing
portfolio of renewable energy assets in the United States.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is a S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com.

Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Three Teenagers on Larceny Charges

Albert Dakota Oyster-McIntyre

Albert Dakota Oyster-McIntyre

Anthony Robert Owens

Anthony Robert Owens

Tyler Gage Cox

Tyler Gage Cox

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested three teenagers yesterday on charges related to two separate larcenies.

19 year old Tyler Gage Cox of Kennesaw Drive and 17 year old Anthony Robert Owens of Coffee Road, both in Westminster and 17 year old Albert Dakota Oyster-McIntyre of Dardouk Drive in Walhalla were booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:55pm, 7:24pm and 9:34pm respectively.

All three teens have been charged each with one count each of Grand Larceny in an incident at an address on Berry Farm Road near Westminster that was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on July 29th. A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to the listed location in reference to a stolen vehicle and a larceny.

According to the arrest warrants obtained by investigators with the Criminal Investigations Division, the teens are accused of taking three chainsaws and a red 2007 Honda 150 Racer dirt bike sometime between the dates of July 28th and July 29th. The total value of the items taken is around $5,250.

Two of the teens, Cox and Oyster-McIntyre, are also charged with one count each of Petit Larceny in a larceny incident that was reported to the Sheriff’s Office on July 31st in which a chainsaw was taken from a residence on Laws Lane in Westminster. The value of the chainsaw is around $620. The chainsaw was taken sometime between July 30th and July 31st.

Cox was also arrested on an outstanding Magistrates Bench Warrant.

All three teens remain in custody at the Detention Center awaiting bond hearings.

The charge of Grand Larceny is a felony that carries a penalty of not more than 10 years in prison. The charge of Petit Larceny is misdemeanor that carries a penalty of not more than 30 days in jail or a fine of not more that $1,000.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Westminster Man on Multiple Charges After Thursday Morning Stabbing Incident

David Leeland Tanner

David Leeland Tanner

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Westminster man yesterday on multiple charges after an early Thursday morning stabbing incident.

32 year old David Leeland Tanner of Cauley Drive was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 12:56pm by a deputy from the Warrants Division.

Tanner has been charged with one count each of Attempted Murder, Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime and Burglary – First Degree in regards to an incident that occurred at an address on Johnny Cox Road near Westminster.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to Oconee Memorial Hospital in reference to a stabbing victim. The deputy spoke with a witness who was with the victim in the residence when someone knocked on the door. The witness went to the door and saw Tanner and advised Tanner to leave.

The victim went to the door and also requested that Tanner leave. An altercation then ensued after the victim tried to close the door on Tanner. Tanner then produced a knife and stabbed the victim in the torso and in the arm inside the residence.

The case was turned over to an investigator from the Criminal Investigations Division and the crime scene was processed for evidence.

Based upon the evidence that was gathered, investigators had probable cause to charge Tanner in regards to the incident.

The victim was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital in order to receive further treatment.

Bond was denied on all three charges against Tanner and he is still in custody at the Detention Center. Tanner will appear before a circuit court judge at a later time.

The charge of Attempted Murder against Tanner carries a penalty of not more than 30 years in prison while the Possession of a Weapon during Commission of a Violent Crime carries a penalty of 5 years in prison. The First Degree Burglary charge carries a penalty of 15 years to Life in prison.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Man on Multiple Charges Related to Home Burglary

John Melvin Miller, Jr.

John Melvin Miller, Jr.

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Seneca man on three charges related to a May home burglary in the Seneca area.

18 year old John Melvin Miller, Jr. of Southgate Drive was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 2:06pm by a deputy from the Warrants Division.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to a separate Southgate Drive address during the morning hours of May 9th in regards to a burglary. The deputy spoke with the victim who stated that two firearms were taken from the residence.

The case was turned over to an investigator with the Criminal Investigations Division.

As the investigation continued and interviews were conducted and evidence gathered, it was determined that Miller, Jr. had entered the residence and stole the firearms. Miller, Jr. also received assistance from a juvenile in regards to the crime.

Based upon the evidence gathered, the investigator in the case had probable cause to obtain arrest warrants on July 14th charging Miller, Jr. with First Degree Burglary, Grand Larceny and Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. According to the warrants, the incident occurred on May 9th.

The juvenile in the case, a male, will be remanded over to the Department of Juvenile Justice and was turned over to the parental custodian, according to the investigator.

The firearms have yet to have been recovered and have been entered into the National Criminal Information Center database, according to the investigator.

Miller, Jr. remains in custody at the Detention Center as he was denied bond yesterday. His bond will be set at a later date by a circuit court judge.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Offers Tips Regarding Traffic Stops

OCSO Chevy Tahoe Picture

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–With much discussion concerning traffic stops and what the conduct of officers and citizens should be, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is offering these tips to ensure safety and courtesy on both sides.

The basic definition of a traffic stop, according to the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, is a temporary detention to conduct an investigation or to conduct an enforcement action. A traffic stop normally occurs because of a violation of traffic law or the observance by an officer of suspicious or criminal activity. However, the officer must be able to articulate the reason for the stop.

Considering that most individuals, including those involved in criminal activities, travel from point A to point B and beyond via vehicles on the roadways, traffic stops are some of the most dangerous duties that officers conduct on a daily basis.

“Considering that traffic stops are anything but routine and can present danger to our officers, the Sheriff’s Office trains our officers to be cautious but remain courteous and professional,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Some of our citizens never interact with law enforcement unless they are involved in a traffic stop. We want our deputies’ interaction to be as professional as possible. We encourage our citizens to remain calm, be honest, and simply comply with the information needed. If there is an issue with how you were treated, feel free to follow up with the deputy’s supervisor.”

If a citizen has a concealed weapon due to having a concealed weapon permit, let the officer know upfront. Citizens are allowed to carry a firearm in the glove compartment without a CWP permit and should inform the officer as well if this is the case. The only exception to this would apply to citizens having been convicted of a crime prohibiting them from possessing a firearm.

Sheriff Crenshaw goes on to say, “We encourage our deputies to build relationships with our citizens on a daily basis. Getting to know the citizens we serve makes situations such as traffic stops less stressful for all of us. If you see a law enforcement officer out in public, I encourage you to introduce yourself. I tell our deputies to do the same and have included this interaction in our mission statement. We want to build those partnerships to make our county a safer place.”

Captain Jeff Underwood of the Uniform Patrol Division of the Sheriff’s Office discusses some tips and things to remember in regards to an officer initiating a traffic stop.

“From start to finish, once an officer has initiated a traffic stop via blue lights, citizens should pull over immediately in a safe area and obey the original signals as quickly as they are able to,” says Captain Underwood. “If someone is not hitting their brakes or operating a turn signal, that puts the officer on guard immediately, so the quicker the person pulls over, the officer is less likely to think something suspicious is going on.”

“While the citizen is waiting for the officer to make contact with them, the person should remain in the vehicle and keep their hands visible at all times,” continues Captain Underwood. This is due to safety reasons. The person who has been pulled over should obey officer directions. When requested for personal information, such as a driver’s license, registration or proof of insurance, the driver is required by law to provide that to the officer. The officer has to tell them why they were stopped when asked, and should be doing that even if the citizen does not ask what the reason for the stop is. The citizen may dispute why they were stopped but the time to argue any charges that may be issued is in court. Any confrontation does not aid either the officer or the person being pulled over.”

“From a safety aspect as a passenger, keep your hands visible at all times,” states Captain Underwood. “By law, an officer can have the occupants of a vehicle exit that vehicle at any time. If that is done, they should comply but only should exit the vehicle after being asked to do so. If a citizen has a complaint in regards to a traffic stop, those issues should be brought to the attention of the officer’s supervisor. All Uniform Patrol Officers at the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office wear body cameras and all interactions are recorded and that video cannot be altered by the deputies. We have reviewed traffic stops and other interactions between officers and citizens and the video has helped in the past to resolve complaints about officer actions, and verify the officer’s reporting of the incident.”

South Carolina law also requires officers who initiate traffic stops to record certain information, such as the age, gender and race of individuals that they pull over. Below are statistics and a breakdown of information on Sheriff’s Office traffic stops in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The Sheriff’s Office initiated 1,770 vehicle stops in 2015 compared to 1,979 in 2014 and 1,371 in 2013. The following is a breakdown of the ethnicity for males and females:

2013 – Female – 13 Hispanic, 85 African American, 366 Caucasian, 13 Other
Male – 44 Hispanic, 129 African American, 710 Caucasian, 11 Other

2014 – Female – 24 Hispanic, 106 African American, 535 Caucasian, 13 Other
Male – 82 Hispanic, 216 African American, 988 Caucasian, 15 Other

2015 – Female – 21 Hispanic, 59 African American, 465 Caucasian, 4 other
Male – 67 Hispanic, 146 African American, 971 Caucasian, 16 other

Deputy’s with the sheriff’s office should identify themselves along with our agency and explain the reason for the traffic stop. On average, the Sheriff’s Office has stopped less than five vehicles per day over the past three years. Traffic stops are not routine for the Sheriff’s Office but sometimes necessary for the safety of our citizens.


Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Man on Breach of Trust Charges

Jason Bradley Pierce

Jason Bradley Pierce

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Seneca man late yesterday evening on Breach of Trust charges.

29 year old Jason Bradley Pierce of South Radio Station Road was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 11:45pm on a Temporary Custody Order until a warrant was obtained today.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to an address on Meadow Lark Drive in Westminster yesterday evening and spoke with a family member of the victim. The deputy was told that the victim’s vehicle had been missing since Wednesday, July 27th.

The victim told the deputy that the vehicle had been recently purchased for $5,000 and that reportedly Pierce had removed a set of keys and taken the vehicle without permission. Attempts to reach Pierce by the victim and the family member had proven to be unsuccessful.

As the investigation progressed, the deputy was informed by dispatch that an officer from the Clemson Police Department was out with the subject and the vehicle on a traffic stop. A second Uniform Patrol Deputy responded to take custody of Pierce. The vehicle was claimed by a family member of the victim and returned to the owner.

According to the arrest warrant, the vehicle in the case is a 1998 Honda Accord.

Pierce was released on a personal recognizance bond earlier today.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Central Man on Multiple Charges after Weekend Pursuit

Donald Avery Ridley

Donald Avery Ridley

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Central man early yesterday morning on multiple charges after a pursuit.

38 year old Donald Avery Ridley of Sheriff Road was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:37am.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division observed a maroon sports bike early Sunday morning traveling at a high rate of speed traveling west on Longcreek Highway near Welcome Church Road. When the deputy got behind the bike, the driver of the bike crossed the double yellow lines into the opposing lane of travel.

The deputy initiated a traffic stop but the bike accelerated and the driver of the bike did not pull over for the officer and the pursuit began. The bike then turned onto Damascus Church Road off Longcreek Highway and then onto Battle Creek Road, where the bike continued to drive in the wrong lane of travel.

The pursuit then continued back onto Longcreek Highway eastbound to Coffee Road into the Walhalla and West Union areas. After turning on Jefferson Road, the pursuit then continued onto West Union Road to North Highway 11 to Flat Shoals Road to Friendly Road and into the Salem area. Eventually, the pursuit came to an end as the driver of the bike, identified as Ridley, was taken into custody.

A search incident to arrest produced a quantity of methamphetamine on the person of Ridley and deputies learned that his license was suspended. Also, the tag of the motorcycle did not match the Vehicle Identification Number on the bike.

Ridley was taken to the Detention Center where he was charged in traffic tickets with Driving under Suspension – 2nd Offense, Improper Vehicle License and Reckless Driving.

Ridley was also booked in on a Temporary Custody Order until warrants were obtained yesterday on charges of Possession of Methamphetamine and Failure to stop for a Blue Light.

As of Noon today, Ridley remained at the Oconee County Detention Center on a combined $11,942.50 surety bond on the charges issued.

Portions of Dr. John’s Road Scheduled to be Closed Next Week

(Walhalla, SC)—————————–The South Carolina Department of Transportation has announced that a portion of Dr. John’s Road in Oconee County is scheduled to be closed next week.
The closure will take placed from Brock Road to the bridge and is scheduled to begin Monday, August 1st and may last until Friday, August 5th.
Detours will be set up near Yellow Bell Road and Brock Road.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Safe Kids Upstate Provide Safety Reminders Regarding Hot Vehicles and Children

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–With the nationwide recognition of National Heatstroke Prevention Day coming up this Sunday, July 31st, the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and Safe Kids Upstate are partnering together to remind citizens about hot vehicles and the dangers of children being trapped inside.

“So far as of today, there have been 23 reported deaths in the United States of children who have died in hot vehicles,” according to Daby Snipes with Safe Kids Upstate. “While most of the deaths that have occurred have been due to children being left in hot vehicles, statistics show that 30% of children who die are children who enter unlocked vehicles to play and can’t find their way out.”

“At Safe Kids Upstate, we would like to remind everyone never to leave your children alone in the car, even for just a moment and when you exit your vehicle, make sure everyone is out and to lock your vehicles,” continues Mrs. Snipes. “If you child is unrestrained, teach them to blow the horn in case they are in the vehicle and can’t get out.”

Mrs. Snipes also reminds everyone that they can help protect kids by remembering to ACT:

A: Avoid Heatstroke by never leaving your child alone in a car
C: Create reminders.
T: Take action by calling 9ll if you see a child alone in a car. One call could save a life.

Sheriff Mike Crenshaw encourages citizens to call 911 immediately if you see a child alone in motor vehicle. The same would also apply for animals left inside a hot car. It only takes a few minutes for temperatures inside a vehicle to reach excessive levels on a hot summer day.

Keeping your vehicles always locked is also a good crime prevention way to deter theft, according to Sheriff Crenshaw.