Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Warns Citizens to Get Estimates Before Having Work Done

Sheriff's Badge

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is reminding residents to get estimates from companies desiring to do work for you before that work begins after a situation from a few weeks ago.

The Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, Jimmy Watt, spoke to a resident who stated that an individual drove up into the driveway of the victim’s residence on Poplar Springs Road on Friday, May 6th, stating that they had an overrun of some tar and chip that he needed to get rid of so it would not ruin and was offering it at a discounted price.

“There was an agreement to pave a portion of the driveway but the contractor would not give the homeowner an estimate of the total cost beforehand,” says PIO Watt. “Other individuals arrived on the scene with some equipment and a portion of the driveway was paved in one evening. After that, the contractor gave the victim a bill for the cost of the job, around $7,800.”

The victim and the contractor agreed to settle for $7,000. The victim told PIO Watt that the contractor was out of the state of Georgia. The victim had a receipt and a business card, which stated that the name of the company was M & S Paving out of Kennesaw, Georgia.

“After looking things over, it does not appear from the surface that the citizen who had the work done was overcharged and since the work was completed and payment made, this is not a criminal issue,” continues PIO Watt. “However, we would like to remind everyone that before any work is completed on your residence or property, that you get an estimate on how much the work will cost up front in writing before allowing anyone to begin that work.”

“If you need this kind of work done, we recommend consulting with family and friends and contacting local contracting companies and getting quotes as well as consulting the Better Business Bureau regarding any companies that you may want to do work for you,” says PIO Watt. “There are many businesses local who would appreciate the opportunity to provide quotes and have the chance to provide work for their employees and do quality work for the residents of Oconee County.”

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Seeks the Public’s Help in Solving Recent Fair Play Shoplifting

Fair Play Shoplifting Picture

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is seeking the public’s help in solving a recent shoplifting that occurred in Fair Play.

On the afternoon of May 27th, a deputy from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to Sweet Water Wine and Spirits on south Highway 11 in Fair Play in reference to a shoplifting in which around 2pm that day, an African-American male entered the store and looked around. The male walked around the store, according to an employee, and then asked the employee a question and then left the store.

The male never returned and upon walking over the area where the male was standing, the employee noticed two bottles of alcohol were missing off the shelf. A review of the security camera footage showed the man placing the two bottles of alcohol in his pants and then passing all points of sale without paying for the items.

The total value of the two bottles of alcohol taken is $79.98.

According to the employee, the man was over six feet tall and was wearing dark blue pants, a shirt, a hat and white shoes.

If you have any information on this May 27th shoplifting from Sweet Water Wine and Spirits in Fair Play, you are asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-CRIME-SC or 864-638-STOP. You don’t have to give your name when you call Crime Stoppers and all information provided is confidential. If your tip leads to an arrest, you could be eligible for a cash reward.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Seneca Man for Intent to Defraud Lottery

Heath Allan Bates

Heath Allan Bates

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Seneca man on charges of Intent to Defraud the South Carolina Education Lottery.

33 year old Heath Allan Bates of Morton Drive was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 5:09am Thursday.

Investigators from the Criminal Investigations Division were notified of attempts to cash stolen lottery tickets at a business on Highway 11 south in the county on Wednesday. Lottery security was notified and later, investigators initiated a traffic stop on a vehicle on Critter Road using information that was provided to deputies by employees of the business.

Bates had an outstanding municipal bench warrant from the city of Walhalla and was transported to the Sheriff’s Office and eventually to the Detention Center. A search of the vehicle by investigators produced lottery tickets which were stolen in the course of a burglary that occurred earlier Wednesday morning at Tunnel Town Express on Highlands Highway in Mountain Rest.

The burglary at Tunnel Town as well as the incident with the stolen lottery tickets remains under investigation by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Sheriff’s Office.

Bates was given a $25,000 surety bond on the warrant regarding the lottery tickets. He remains in custody as of 1pm today at the Detention Center.

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

Mercer County woman charged with taping sexual abuse of 10-year-old

Carissa Vadala

Carissa Vadala

Office of the Attorney General - Pennsylvania

Office of the Attorney General – Pennsylvania

Sheriff's Badge

Press Release Courtesy of Press Office
Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office

HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane’s office today announced the arrest of a Mercer County woman charged with sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl, videotaping the abuse and disseminating the recordings to other individuals.
Carissa Lee Vadala, 19, 2385 Anchorage Road, Sharpsville, was arrested following an investigation by the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section. The investigation commenced after agents with the Child Predator Section received information from law enforcement officials in South Carolina.
“This is a disturbing case of a woman exploiting an innocent child,” Attorney General Kane said. “I commend the investigators with the Child Predator Section and their law enforcement partners in South Carolina for acting quickly to prevent this woman from committing further abuse.”
According to a criminal complaint, the investigation commenced after an investigator with the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office in Walhalla, S.C. contacted the Office of Attorney General regarding evidence recovered during a separate child pornography investigation. The evidence consisted of a video that allegedly showed a woman sexually assaulting the 10-year-old victim.
Further investigation led agents from the Child Predator Section and officers from the South Pymatuning Township Police Department to execute a search warrant at Vadala’s residence. It was determined that Vadala was in fact the woman perpetrating the sexual abuse in the video found by investigators in South Carolina. She was arrested Friday.
Vadala is charged with two counts each of aggravated indecent assault of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse of a child, production of child pornography, dissemination of child pornography, sexual exploitation of children and indecent assault, as well as one count each of corruption of minors, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal use of a communication facility.
Vadala is confined to the Mercer County Prison after failing to post $250,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is tentatively scheduled for June 8.
Attorney General Kane thanked the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for their assistance with this investigation.
The case will be prosecuted by Deputy Attorney General Jessel A. Costa III of the Office of Attorney General’s Child Predator Section.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Files Additional Charges against Townville Man Already in Custody

Robert Jeffrey Hughes

Robert Jeffrey Hughes

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office has filed additional charges against a Townville man already in custody at the Oconee County Detention Center.

In a previous press releases issued by the Sheriff’s Office, 22 year old Robert Jeffrey Hughes of Oak Knoll Drive in Anderson County, was charged with one count of Grand Larceny in an incident concerning the theft of a pickup, a 2000 Ford F-150 from an address on West-Oak Highway near West-Oak High School that occurred sometime between May 12th and May 13th. The truck was eventually recovered in Anderson County in the Townville area.

Hughes was charged in that incident back on May 17th. He was also charged on the same date with one count of First Degree Burglary in relation to entering an enclosed carport at a residence on Dairy Farm Road during the nighttime hours between May 13th and May 14th. This is the same location in which a 2006 Ford F-250 pickup was stolen that deputies pursued in the early morning hours of May 15th in which Hughes and 21 year old Carley Deann Austin of the same Oak Knoll Drive address were arrested.

Hughes and Austin were arrested that morning after deputies observed the 2006 Ford F-250 pickup on Highway 24 matching the description of one that had been stolen the previous day from an address on Dairy Farm Road near Westminster.

After a pursuit in which the truck was driven off road into a field on Hunt Road and through several rows of fencing, Hughes and Austin were arrested by deputies after fleeing the vehicle on foot.

Hughes and Austin were charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle in that incident while Hughes was also charged with Unlawful Carrying of a Pistol, Failure to stop for a Blue Light, Driving under Suspension, Malicious Injury to Personal Property, Resisting Arrest with a Deadly Weapon, and Possession of a Stolen Vehicle.

A hold was also placed on Hughes by the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office.

As the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is continued their investigation, investigators from the Criminal Investigations Division also charged Hughes on May 24th with breaking into a 2010 GMC Denali at an address on Creekview Drive in Seneca sometime between May 6th and May 7th and stealing a GPS device.

In warrants obtained today by the Sheriff’s Office, Hughes was charged with First Degree Burglary and Grand Larceny for breaking into a residence on Lakefront Drive in Townville during the nighttime hours of May 8th and taking away sporting goods equipment, a golf cart and a battery.

Hughes has been charged with a separate count of Grand Larceny for stealing a 2001 Black Ford Explorer from a separate address on Lakefront Drive in Townville also on May 8th.

Finally, Hughes has been charged with Possession of a Stolen Vehicle for possessing a 2012 Toyota Tacoma that was stolen from an address on May 5th in Anderson County.

According to jail records and warrants that were issued today, Hughes has been charged with 14 separate counts. His total surety bond amount on the previous 10 charges, according to jail records, is $132,782.50.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Announces Graduation from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy

Uniform Patrol Deputy Kody Klepper

Uniform Patrol Deputy Kody Klepper

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office is announcing today the graduation of Deputy Kody Klepper from the Basic Law Enforcement program at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.

Klepper, who graduated from the Academy on May 27th, was hired by the Sheriff’s Office on January 25th of this year. He has been assigned to the Uniform Patrol Division and will be working on the Delta Shift.

Klepper graduated from West-Oak High School. He enlisted in the South Carolina National Guard and is assigned to the Maintenance Detachment 2-263rd Air Defense Artillery.

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Arrests Fair Play Man on Domestic Violence, Kidnapping Charges

John Timothy Lee, Jr.

John Timothy Lee, Jr.

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office arrested a Fair Play man Sunday evening after a domestic disturbance was reported in Fair Play.

23 year old John Timothy Lee, Jr. of Rock Hill Road was booked into the Oconee County Detention Center around 8:27pm.

Deputies from the Uniform Patrol Division responded to an address on Rock Hill Road and spoke with the victim of the assault. The address deputies responded to was a different address a few houses down from the Rock Hill Road address where the incident occurred.

The victim told the deputy that Lee, Jr. assaulted her by striking her in the upper and lower parts of her body. The victim also told the deputy that she was choked by Lee, Jr. after being pushed against a door in the residence and that Lee, Jr. held a knife to her throat while making threats to harm her. Lee, Jr. also reportedly threw objects at the victim as well. She was able later to leave the residence and contact the Sheriff’s Office. The injuries to the victim, according to deputies, were clearly visible.

The deputies began to collect evidence and take statements as well as meeting with Lee, Jr. Eventually, Lee, Jr. was arrested for domestic violence and transported to the Oconee County Detention Center and placed on a Temporary Custody Order until warrants were obtained.

In warrants that were obtained yesterday, Lee, Jr. has been charged with Domestic Violence of a High and Aggravated Nature and Kidnapping.

As of 1pm this afternoon, Lee, Jr. is still in custody at the Detention Center on a combined $70,000 surety bond.

Oconee County Sheriff Swears In First Two Female Reserve Officers

From L - R: Reserve Officer Sonja Royal, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw and Reserve Officer Kathy Frederick

From L – R: Reserve Officer Sonja Royal, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw and Reserve Officer Kathy Frederick

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–In a swearing in ceremony conducted in the 2nd floor training room at the Law Enforcement Center in Walhalla last Tuesday, Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw swore in the first two female reserve officers in the history of the Sheriff’s Office.

The two reserve officers, Kathy Frederick and Sonja Royal, took the oath and affirmation and then were presented with their badges. Both ladies attended classes at Tri-County Technical College 4 nights a week for 14 weeks in order to receive their certification. After the swearing ceremony, Kathy and Sonja received their badges.

Kathy is a graduate from Seneca High School and started her law enforcement career with the Seneca Police Department. She began work at the Sheriff’s Office in October of 2007 in dispatch. After a time in the records department, she moved to her current position as Secretary of Special Operations.

Sonya is a graduate of West-Oak High School and Tri-County Technical College with a degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting. She began work at the Sheriff’s Office in August of 2006 in the E-911/Communications Center. Sonja is also a Certified Training Officer in dispatch.

After 240 hours of Field Officer Training, Sonja and Kathy will be required to work 20 hours a month in order to maintain their certification.

“The Sheriff’s Office commends Kathy and Sonja for their work and diligence in obtaining their Reserve Officer certification,” says Oconee County Sheriff Mike Crenshaw. “Reserve Officers are an important part of the Sheriff’s Office and our law enforcement efforts. These officers provide 20 hours a month of service to the citizens of Oconee County in keeping them safe. It costs our agency around $100,000 to employ a certified officer, which includes salary, fringe benefits, vehicle and equipment plus other items whereas the cost of a reserve officer involves about $2,500 for equipment, so this is of a great benefit to our citizens not only due to cost but also having these additional officers on the road.”

Oconee County Sheriff’s Office Hosts Third Annual Retirees Appreciation Luncheon

3rd Retirees Luncheon (1)

3rd Retirees Luncheon (2)

Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

Sheriff Mike Crenshaw

By: Jimmy Watt
Public Information Officer

(Walhalla, SC)————————————–The Oconee County Sheriff’s Office hosted its third annual Retirees Appreciation Luncheon last Wednesday at the Law Enforcement Center in Walhalla.

The luncheon was open to all retired law enforcement officers currently living in Oconee County, regardless of which agency they were employed by. Around 50 individuals attended Wednesday’s luncheon, which was held on the second floor of the LEC.

Sheriff Mike Crenshaw addressed those in attendance. There was also a moment of silence for four retired law enforcement officers who lived in Oconee County who passed away since last year’s luncheon.

Among those who attended Wednesday’s luncheon were retired Oconee County Sheriff’s Earl Holcombe and James Singleton as well as former 10th Circuit Solicitor George Ducworth.

“The luncheon’s that the Sheriff’s Office has hosted has given us the opportunity to honor those law enforcement officers and their families for the great sacrifices they made to the citizens they served and to say thank you for that service,” continues Sheriff Crenshaw. “Also, it gives our officers that are currently serving our citizens in Oconee County a chance to meet these wonderful officers and build relationships and glean from their experience so they can use that experience to make them better officers.”

Oconee County Emergency Services Issues Release Regarding West Nile Virus

Oconee County Emergency Services

Oconee County Emergency Services

Release Courtesy of Charlie King
Fire Chief
Oconee County Emergency Services

Oconee County has received confirmation from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) of a positive test result of West Nile Virus from their routine mosquito surveillance program. This is not an uncommon occurrence as the virus has been around for many years. West Nile Virus is transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito and has been reported in 46 of 50 States.
NO animal or human infection cases have been confirmed in Oconee County this season.
SCDHEC continues their testing and surveillance program to keep Oconee County and Municipalities informed. We will continue to provide updates as they are received. The best way to prevent the spread of the West Nile Virus is to eliminate the breeding ground for mosquitoes and their habitats. Oconee County is asking our citizens to help to reduce the potential for illness in our community.
How you can help:
• Reduce the numbers of adult mosquitoes around your home.
o Drain or eliminate sites that have standing water.
o Gutters with standing water
o Animal water dishes- refresh their water frequently
o Discarded tires
o Birdbaths
o Empty or throw away any other containers that have standing water.
• Keep mosquitoes outside: Use air conditioning or make sure that you repair and use window/door screens.
• Avoid Mosquitoes: Most mosquito species bite during dawn, dusk, twilight hours, and night. Some species bite during the day, especially in wooded or other shaded areas. Avoid exposure during these times and in these areas.
• Wear insect repellent: Yes! It is safe. When used as directed, insect repellent is the BEST way to protect yourself from mosquito bites—even children and pregnant women should protect themselves.
o DEET: Products containing DEET include Cutter, OFF!, Skintastic.
o Picaridin (also known as KBR 3023, Bayrepel, and icaridin): Products containing picaridin include Cutter Advanced, Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus, and Autan outside the United States).
FAX (864) 647-6345
PHONE (864) 638-4220
o Oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) or PMD: Repel contains OLE.
o IR3535: Products containing IR3535 include Skin So Soft Bug Guard Plus Expedition and SkinSmart.
• Cover up: When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants.
• Report dead birds: http://www.scdhec.gov/birdtesting/
The signs and symptoms of West Nile Virus are similar to those of the flu. Those most susceptible to the virus are the elderly, young, and immune depressed; 70-80% of infected individuals never notice the effects of the virus. If you feel you may have these symptoms, please visit your local healthcare provider.
For additional information, please visit or contact the following:
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control: http://www.scdhec.gov/mosquitoes/
Jim Beasley: 803-898-7769, SCDHEC Public Information Officer
Center for Disease Control:

http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/

800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636)