2016 Crime Stoppers of Oconee County Golf Tournament Set For Thursday, May 5th

Sheriff's Badge

Crimestoppers Logo

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————Crime Stoppers of Oconee County, Inc. and the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is announcing today the date for the 2016 Crime Stoppers of Oconee County Golf Tournament.

The tournament will be held at Oconee Country Club in Seneca on Thursday, May 5th with a Noon shotgun start.

Crime Stoppers and the Sheriff’s Office will be releasing more information in the weeks to come about the tournament and what players can expect.

“Crime Stoppers is a non-profit organization and therefore, there is not a line item in the Sheriff’s Office budget for Crime Stoppers nor is any tax dollars used in its operations,” says Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer for the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the Coordinator of Crime Stoppers of Oconee County. “The way Crime Stoppers is able to raise money for its operations and to pay for tips that lead to an arrest is thru fundraisers, such as our golf tournament, and through private donations as well so this golf tournament is vitally important to helping keep Oconee County safe.”

The format, as in previous years, will be 4 man Captain’s Choice teams. The cost per player is $60.00 with a maximum field of 25 teams (100 players). Hole sponsorships are available at $100 each.

For more information on how to register your team or become a hole sponsor, contact Jimmy Watt, Public Information Officer with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office, at 864-638-4199 or e-mail Jimmy at jwatt@oconeelaw.com.

Escapee from Oconee County Detention Center Captured

Cody Adam Pelfrey

Cody Adam Pelfrey

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–Earlier this evening, around 6:11pm, Investigators and Deputies from the Uniform Patrol Division were advised that an inmate at the Oconee County Detention Center had escaped by climbing over the fence of the outdoor recreation area.
A BOLO was issued which contained a description of the inmate to all surrounding agencies.

The inmate, 29 year old Cody Adam Pelfrey of Walhalla, had been at the Detention Center since December 2nd on a Magistrates Bench Warrant from the city of Walhalla for drug paraphernalia.

The outdoor recreation area is used by inmates who have non-violent misdemeanor type offenses. There are two security fences used at the outdoor recreation facility with the outer fence containing razor wire.

The Sheriff’s Office, along with the assistance of citizens and the Walhalla and Westminster Police Departments, was able to locate Pelfrey and was able to place him in custody around 6:50pm.

“When something like this happens, the safety of our citizens is priority number one,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “When Pelfrey escaped, we made sure that he was the only one who had escaped as we moved inmates back to their dormitories and performed a head count. Once again, no other inmates except Pelfrey escaped.”

“One note as we begin to make the move into our new Detention Center soon is that in our new jail, all recreation facilities are enclosed,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “That means that all the inmates will have will be a view of the outside sky.”

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation and charges are pending at this time.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Four After Early Morning Traffic Stop

Kendra Faye Claflin

Kendra Faye Claflin

Keshy Djamal Ngoumou Watonsi

Keshy Djamal Ngoumou Watonsi

Joshua Kyle Gurley

Joshua Kyle Gurley

Keesta Shanaye Ferrell

Keesta Shanaye Ferrell

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested four individuals this morning after an early morning traffic stop near the Tokeena Crossroads.

27 year old Joshua Kyle Gurley of Westeria Way in Pendleton, 23 year old Keshy Djamal Ngoumou Watonsi of Sirrine Street in Seneca, 27 year old Kendra Faye Claflin of LaFrance Road in Anderson and 24 year old Keesta Shanaye Ferrell, who has listed addresses, according to traffic tickets, on Highway 49 West in Milledgeville, Georgia and Sirrine Street in Seneca, were booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 2:19am, 2:33am, 2:50am and 3:33am respectively.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division on routine patrol on West-Oak Highway at Timberlake One Circle observed a vehicle turn onto West-Oak Highway from the Timberlake area. The deputy learned from dispatch that the vehicle was listed as stolen after running the tag information.

The deputy then initiated a traffic stop at the intersection of West-Oak Highway and Shepherds Way. The deputy observed four individuals in the vehicle. Two of the individuals in the vehicle, Claflin and Gurley, were identified by deputies, however, Ngoumou Watonsi and Ferrell stated they did not have any identification and then provided the deputy with false information about their identity. After confirming the correct identity of Ngoumou Watonsi and Ferrell, deputies determined that both had outstanding warrants and both were placed under arrest for providing false information.

Officers discovered a syringe on the person of Ngoumou Watonsi in a search incident to arrest. Claflin, the driver of the vehicle, was placed under arrest on charges related to the stolen vehicle. Deputies recovered a quantity of methamphetamine that was on the person of Claflin.

Deputies also discovered more methamphetamine, prescription medication and marijuana that were located in areas inside of the vehicle as well as two weapons, a rifle and a handgun. Deputies were able to determine that the handgun was stolen out of Anderson County.

The vehicle was towed and all parties were transported to the Detention Center. After arriving at the Detention Center, a deputy discovered more methamphetamine where Mr. Ngoumou Watonsi had been sitting in the patrol vehicle while being transported.

Ferrell was charged in traffic tickets with Simple Possession of Marijuana and Providing False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer. Her total surety bond amount on the two charges is $1,712.50. She also was served with an outstanding Magistrates Bench Warrant. She remains in custody at the Detention Center as of 4:15pm.

Claflin has been charged in warrants with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, which was reported stolen to the Sheriff’s Office on November 11th and with Possession of Methamphetamine. She remains in custody as of 4:15pm today on a total combined surety bond amount of $15,000.

Gurley has been charged in warrants with Possession with Intent to Distribute Methamphetamine, Possession of a Controlled Substance (Hydrocodone), Receiving Stolen Goods and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Convicted of a Violent Felony. Gurley remains in custody at the Detention Center as of 4:15pm today on a total combined surety bond amount of $22,000.

Ngoumou Watonsi has been charged in traffic tickets with Providing False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer and Simple Possession of Marijuana as well as being charged in warrants with Trafficking in Methamphetamine and Possession of a Firearm by a Person Convicted of a Violent Felony. Ngoumou Watonsi also had an outstanding Magistrates Bench Warrant from the city of Seneca as well as an arrest warrant from Probation, Parole and Pardons for a probation violation. Ngoumou Watonsi still remains in custody at the Detention Center pending a bond hearing.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Westminster Man on Nineteen Warrants

Joshua Scott Ivester

Joshua Scott Ivester

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Westminster yesterday on nineteen outstanding arrests warrants.

31 year old Joshua Scott Ivester of Shanandoah Drive was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 11:50am by a deputy from the Warrants Division.

Scott has been charged with one count of Grand Larceny, nine counts of Breaking Into a Motor Vehicle and nine counts of Petit Larceny in a series of incidents that all occurred sometime between November 5th and November 6th.

According to arrest warrants, Ivester is accused of taking a Red Ez-Go Golf Cart from an address on Bradbury Way in Westminster. The value of the golf cart is around $2,500.

Ivester is also accused of breaking into vehicles in nine separate incidents around the Westminster area and stealing various items, including electronics, sunglasses, tools, keys and cash.

As of 9:45am this morning, Ivester is still in custody at the Detention Center on a combined total surety bond amount of $118,000.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Walhalla Man on Multiple Charges, Including Receiving Stolen Goods

Steven Lee Duncan

Steven Lee Duncan

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Walhalla man over the weekend on six separate charges.

35 year old Steven Lee Duncan of South Maple Street was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 7:01am Saturday. As of 11am this morning, he is still in custody at the Detention Center on a total combined surety bond amount of $28,520 on all charges.

Deputies from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to the Seneca Wal-Mart location on Sandifer Boulevard early Saturday morning in regards to reports of a suspicious person that appeared to be passed out behind the wheel of a pick-up truck in the parking lot.

Deputies made contact with the individual, Duncan, and upon being given consent, conducted a search of the vehicle. Deputies discovered several items in a backpack in the floorboard, which included computer style business checks, blank checks, credit cards, and other checks made out to subjects who resided in North Carolina. Also, cash and other personal documents were discovered as well.

After checking with deputies with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, Oconee County Sheriff’s Office deputies made contacts with victims in North Carolina who told deputies that the checks were not supposed to be with this subject. The victims told the deputies that they wished charges to be filed against Duncan.

Deputies secured all the evidence and the pickup was towed. The case was then turned over to the Criminal Investigations Division.

Deputies have charged Duncan with four counts of Receiving Stolen Goods and two counts of Financial Transaction Card Theft.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces Additional Arrests in Twelfth “Operation Infinity” Drug Round-Up

Michael Ryan O'Connor

Michael Ryan O’Connor

Aaron Raines Catchings

Aaron Raines Catchings

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)———————————The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is announcing additional arrests in the twelfth “Operation Infinity” drug sweep round-up that began last Thursday morning.

The Sheriff’s Office teamed up with our partners from the Seneca, Walhalla, Westminster and West Union Police Departments in this particular phase.

In all, 19 individuals are being sought on a variety of drug charges involving methamphetamine, prescription drugs, and crack cocaine. Some individuals in this drug sweep are being sought on charges of Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

Between noon Monday and 1pm today, two additional individuals have been arrested, which brings the grand total of suspects arrested so far to eleven. Here are the names of the three additional suspects arrested and their charges according to warrants:

1) Aaron Raines Crawford
Seneca, SC
28 years old
Unlawful Neglect of a Child – 1 Count
Booked in on December 8th, 2015
Released from the Detention Center on December 8th, 2015
Personal Recognizance Bond

2) Michael Ryan O’Connor
Seneca, SC
25 years old
Distribution of Ice (Methamphetamine) – 3 Counts
Booked in on December 10th, 2015
Still in Custody as of 2pm today
Total Combined Surety Bond Amount: $30,000

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation and due to that fact, the names of the other individuals being sought will not be released at this time.

Oconee County Solicitors Office Drop Off Site for “Coats For Kids” Program

Coats For Kids Flyer

(Walhalla, SC)—————————The Oconee County Solicitors Office location at the Walhalla Court House is a drop-off location for the “Coats For Kids” program.
Donations will be accepted from now until Friday, January 8th, 2016 or donation items can be picked up via a request.
Items that are needed are coats, gloves and toboggans. These items should be new or gently used and are needed in children, youth and infant sizes.
These items will be available for distribution, free of charge, at the Bi-Lo location at 191 BI-LO Place in Seneca on Saturday, January 9th, 2016 from 10am until 1pm.
For more information, call 864-638-4294.

Oconee County Animal Shelter Announces Winner in Cow Adoption Drawing

Cow Adoption Picture Two

Animal Shelter Director Jaimee Paul, Jane Finfrock and Lt. Mark Lyles

Animal Shelter Director Jaimee Paul, Jane Finfrock and Lt. Mark Lyles

Lt. Mark Lyles and Brittnay Grant

Lt. Mark Lyles and Brittnay Grant

Cow Adoption Picture One

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Animal Shelter is pleased to announce that Jane Finfrock of Salem was the winner in the Cow Adoption drawing that was held this morning.

Jane’s application was among the 150 adoption applications that were filled out by citizens of Oconee County in the past three days. Her name was drawn by Brittany Grant, who is a volunteer with the Oconee Human Society.

Animal Control officers took possession of the cow a couple of weeks ago after an accident investigation on Highway 24 near Westminster in which a couple of vehicles struck a cow in the roadway. The cow that was adopted was the offspring of the cow that was hit. No one ever came forward to claim ownership of the offspring.

Animal Control Officers will conduct a home check of the property before the offspring is released, which should take place soon.

The only cost associated with the adoption is a $200 adoption fee.

The Animal Shelter would like to remind everyone that December is a slow month for adoptions and the Shelter has dogs and cats that are available for adoption and would make wonderful Christmas and holiday gifts. The Animal Shelter encourages you to stop by during normal business hours, 10am until 4:30pm Monday thru Friday and 10am until 2pm on Saturday.

For more information, you can contact the Animal Shelter at 864-888-0221.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Woman on Unlawful Neglect of a Child Charges

Kayla Michelle Reid

Kayla Michelle Reid

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Seneca woman yesterday on charges of Unlawful Neglect of a Child.

20 year old Kayla Michelle Reid of Lori Jen Lane was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:37pm.

A deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division received a phone call the evening of December 1st from an employee from the Department of Social Services in reference to a child that had suffered an apparent skull injury. The child was transported by a family member to Oconee Memorial Hospital for treatment and was later transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital for further treatment.

The case was turned over to the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office and the elder and child abuse investigator.

As the investigation continued and evidence gathered and interviews conducted, investigators were able to determine that the child, a fifteen-month old female, suffered a skull injury due to two blunt force impacts that reportedly occurred at the Lori Jen Lane address.

According to warrants, the child was in the care of Reid when the incident occurred.

The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing their investigation.

Reid is being held as of 2pm today on a $20,000 surety bond.

The child was released from the hospital and has been placed with a family member via DSS.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Continues to Warn Public to be Wary of Scams and Fraud Attempts

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to warn residents to be aware of a few scams and fraud attempts that the Sheriff’s Office has been made aware of.

“The Sheriff’s Office issued a press release earlier this week to warn our citizens of a scam involving individuals calling and stating they were deputies and demanding money to cover fines on bogus federal warrants or those individuals would be arrested,” says Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Jimmy Watt. “We were able to get the word out through our internet and social media sites and through our partners in the news media and we are thankful for their assistance to make everyone aware of what was going on.”

“However, we continue to see many of the same scams pop up, including scammers calling claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service and warning citizens that they would be arrested unless they paid up supposed back taxes that were owed,” continues P.I.O. Watt. “The Sheriff’s Office was also notified that some citizens had received a letter from a sweepstakes company claiming the recipient had won money and all they had to do was call a number and provide credit card information to the company to cover certain fees in order to claim their money. I was also notified by one of our Uniform Patrol Deputies this morning that we have had a victim of the real estate scam that has been reported in some jurisdictions. An individual received a call this morning and the caller stated that a family member had been in an accident and would be harmed if the person called did not do what they were told. The victim asked to speak to the family member but soon realized it was not a legitimate call and hung on the caller.”

As mentioned in the press release on Monday, a victim last week received a phone call from someone claiming to be a family member who needed money for bond on a bogus arrest and also for a public defender. The individual sent the money via a prepaid card and later learned that the family member was fine and was not in jail. The victim is out around $9,500.

“The Sheriff’s Office has issued multiple press releases concerning scams and potential frauds and yet we continue to see many of the same issues pop up” continues P.I.O. Watt. “In many cases, it is extremely difficult for any law enforcement agency to prosecute those who are involved and if money is lost, it is virtually impossible to retrieve. We are issuing another press release today to continue our education efforts in the hopes that no one else falls prey to these attempts to rob our citizens of their hard earned money and to hopefully deter these scammers, if possible, from trying to business in Oconee County.”

Many scams and fraud attempts have certain things in common. The Sheriff’s Office wants to emphasize these points to help protect our citizens. Many of these points come from previous press releases we have issued:

• One pretty sure sign of a scam is an individual asking for payment via a prepaid card. If anyone is able to get the PIN numbers from those cards and the money is taken before anyone realizes it is a scam, it is almost virtually impossible to retrieve the money. Also, scammers love to use legitimate businesses, such as Western Union or Money Gram, because of its quickness and availability.

• Law enforcement officers do have the right to arrest individuals with outstanding warrants but officers will not contact anyone stating that arrest warrants will be recalled if someone pays a fine over the phone, in fact, officers do not handle money transactions at all. All fines are taken care of on the judicial level in courts and are not handled by officers.

• If you receive these calls in the future, we encourage you to save all phone numbers and information if you can. Do not give out personal or financial information and do not put any money on prepaid cards. Call your local law enforcement agency to report what has happened and file a case report so an investigation can begin, regardless of the outcome and even if property was not lost.

• Most legitimate businesses will not require payment to be made using a prepaid cards. If a company or business contacts you and says that payment is due and can be made using a pre-paid card, hang up the phone and contact that company or business to inquire about the situation.

• According to an article on the website of the Federal Communications Division (http://www.fcc.gov/guides/caller-id-and-spoofing), “Spoofing” is used by criminals to falsify the number they are calling from or the name of a person in an effort to disguise the actual number they are calling from or the name of the person calling.
Scammers can make it appear that they are calling from your bank, a financial company, a governmental office or a person calling from your local area code. However, those individuals may be calling from a number that is hundreds or thousands of miles away. Due to that fact, it makes it extremely difficult for law enforcement in many cases to trace the call to find out where it originated.

• The Sheriff’s Office always recommends never giving out personal information over the telephone as companies and businesses you deal with have your personal information. If an offer sounds too good to be true, more than likely it is. If you feel uncomfortable in anyway with an offer you receive or you see some red flags, don’t respond in any way whatsoever or ignore it and don’t respond.

• Scammers tend to target seniors more than any other age groups based on financial stability and the fact seniors tend to be a more trusting generation. Anyone, however, can be the target of scams.

• Scammers will in many cases use out of country numbers, such as with the 876 area code with individuals on the line having a foreign accent. Many times it is difficult but not impossible for the Sheriff’s Office to prosecute cases and apprehend those involved in which someone calls from out of the country and not from inside Oconee County itself to perpetrate the scam.

• Never give out any personal information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers, credit or debit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, or birthdates to anyone who may ask you for that information over the phone or through regular mail or e-mail.
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.

• Another scamming technique is for individuals to agree to buy something on a website, such as Craig’s List, and then receive a check in the mail. They are asked to deposit the money, keep some of it and then send the rest to another address, for example. In many cases, the checks are no good and the person who deposited the check is responsible to cover the amount of the insufficient funds.

• If the Internal Revenue Service happens to contact you concerning a tax question, they will contact you by mail instead of calling you directly. Also, if someone claims to be calling from the I.R.S. and states that you owe back taxes, hang up and call your tax preparer and/or the Internal Revenue Service to check the validity of the claims as you have the right to appeal.