Bizarre trial ends with 55 year sentence for armed robber

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Blue Ridge, Ga. – In what might be remembered as one of the most bizarre trials to be held in Fannin County in 2019, a jury has found 22 year old Hamond Mormon guilty and Appalachian Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver handed down a 55 year sentence in the case.

Mormon, along with his mother Melisse Mormon (aka Melisse Marmon) and cousin Rashad Morman, were accused in the Labor Day 2017 armed robbery of the AT&T store located off of Scenic Drive.

Fannin County, Georgia, Armed Robbery, AT&T, Guilty, Trial, Melisse Mormon, Melisse, Rashad Morman, Hamond Mormon, Sovereign Citizen, Fannin County Sheriff's Office, Sgt. Jacob Pless, Lt. Todd Pack, Blue Ridge City Police, Capt. Rob Staurt,  Appalachian Judicial Circuit, Superior Court, Judge, Brenda Weaver, District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee, High Speed Chase, 515, Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities

Hamond Mormon was found guilty on 14 counts and sentenced to 55 years.

According to law enforcement statements, as well as surveillance footage from the store, Rashad and Hamond entered the store, both armed, and forced employees to hand over cash, personal belongings, and cell phones.

Melisse waited outside for the two to return and drove the getaway vehicle. The resulting chase between the trio and law enforcement involved speeds over 100 mph and only ended when Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jacob Pless disabled the suspects’ vehicle through use of a PIT (Pursuit Intervention Technique) maneuver.

A jury made up of 6 men and 6 women, with a female alternate, listened the state’s argument presented by Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney, B. Alison Sosebee and watched the antics of Defendant Hamond Mormon unfold for several days.

Mormon made his intentions known to the court that he would be defending himself and opted out of representation by a public defender.

Mormon also exercised his right to declare Sovereign Citizenship, a move that has repeatedly been struck down by higher courts and considered an invalid claim.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Sovereign Citizens “believe that even though they physically reside in this country, they are separate or “sovereign” from the United States. As a result, they believe they don’t have to answer to any government authority, including courts, taxing entities, motor vehicle departments, or law enforcement”.

One of papers filed by Mormon to Judge Weaver and District Attorney Sosebee states: “As a true flesh and blood American and sovereign citizen, I refuse to participate in any colorable law schemes or practices”.

The first several days of the trial were anything but normal for members of the jury to witness and court staff to accommodate. Mormon, representing himself, would often refuse to acknowledge Judge Weaver as she gave explanations of court proceedings to ensure that he was aware everything that was going on.

Mormon also refused to wear clothes to court and instead sat in the courtroom cloaked in a blanket. Despite his seemingly odd behavior, an extensive mental evaluation was performed by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and found Mormon to be of sound mind and competent to stand trial.

On the day of closing arguments, Mormon refused to come to the courtroom all together, and Judge Weaver was putting her foot down as well stating that if Mormon did show he would be required to wear clothing.

Sosebee presented her closing argument to the jury and reminded everyone: “The State of Georgia is not required to prove the guilt of the accused beyond all doubt or to a mathematical certainty. It has to be a reasonable doubt.” Sosebee added to this, “We have in fact carried that burden.”

With Judge Weaver reminding the jury that Mormon’s behavior in the courtroom is not indicative of guilt and that the jury should only consider the evidence presented in the case, the 12 member (plus an alternate) was dismissed for deliberations.

Deliberation only took 21 minutes before the jury informed the court that they had reached a verdict in the case. The foreman stood and read a verdict of guilty on all counts. Weaver polled each jury member individually to ensure that each member had in fact reached this unanimous decision.

“This has been a little bit of an unusual trial,” Judge Weaver spoke directly to the jury before their dismissal, “I appreciate your patience with us.”

After the jury left the courtroom, Fannin County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Todd Pack was once again tasked with inquiring as to whether Mormon would like to enter the courtroom. Mormon had previously declined Pack’s offer for closing arguments and then again for the reading of the verdict.

Declining for a third time to enter the courtroom for sentencing, according to Pack, Mormon stated, “You are sentencing an artificial being. My name is not Hamond Dontel Mormon. I am not who they say that I am.”

Before handing down the sentence Weaver addressed her feelings on the case involving Mormon, “I guess of the three defendants I have a little more sympathy for him because of his background…than I have for the others.”

Weaver went on to explain that after having read Mormon’s evaluation by the state and given the details of his past that she felt “he never really had a chance”.

Mormon received a total of 55 years to serve 50 of those years in prison. A breakdown of the sentencing is as follows:

  • Count 1 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve
  • Count 2 – Armed Robbery – 20 years to serve consecutive to Count 1
  • Count 3 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 4 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 5 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 6 – Aggravated Assault – Merge w/ count 1
  • Count 7 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 8 – Kidnapping – 20 years to run concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 9 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 10 – False Imprisonment – 10 years concurrent with Count 1
  • Count 11 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 2
  • Count 12 – Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony – 5 years to serve consecutive to Count 11
  • Count 13 – Possession of Tools for the Commission of a Crime – 5 years probation to run consecutive to Count 12
  • Count 14 – Theft by Taking – Merge with Count 1

 

 

 

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Natalie Kissel

Natalie@FetchYourNews.com

City of Atlanta’s Former Chief Procurement Officer Pleads Guilty

Press Release

CITY OF ATLANTA’S FORMER CHIEF PROCUREMENT OFFICER

ADAM SMITH PLEADS GUILTY TO TAKING BRIBES

ATLANTA – Adam L. Smith, the former Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Atlanta, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to accept more than $30,000 in bribe payments from a vendor who obtained millions of dollars in city contracts.

“Great trust was placed in Smith as Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Atlanta, and he abused his position to serve his own financial interests,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn.  “Public corruption offenses, like Smith’s, can erode the confidence that the people have in government.”

“The guilty plea in federal court of former City of Atlanta Procurement Officer Adams will ensure that he is held accountable for his greed based criminal conduct as he now awaits sentencing. It is hoped that this case serves as notice to others that similar such conduct among public officials will not be condoned and that there are severe consequences should that notice go unheeded,” said David J. LeValley, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Atlanta Field Office.

“Public service is a public trust, requiring employees to obey laws and ethical principles above private gain. Smith abused his public trust to enrich himself at a cost to the taxpayers,” said James E. Dorsey, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation. “We will continue to work with the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office in making these public corruption investigations a priority.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges and other information presented in court: From 2003 to February 21, 2017, Smith served as the Chief Procurement Officer for the City of Atlanta, Georgia. As the Chief Procurement Officer, Smith oversaw the City of Atlanta’s purchasing activities and its expenditure of billions of dollars in public money for projects.

The information refers to a vendor who was an executive with a construction firm in Atlanta, Georgia, but does not identify them by name. During Smith’s tenure as the Chief Procurement Officer, Atlanta awarded contracts worth millions of dollars to Vendor’s firm and joint venture projects of which Vendor was a partner.

From at least 2015 to January 2017, Smith met privately with Vendor on multiple occasions, frequently at local restaurants. During these meetings, Smith and Vendor discussed Atlanta procurement projects, bids, and solicitations. Often at the time of these meetings, Vendor was actively seeking contracts, projects, and work with Atlanta.

After most of these meetings, Vendor and Smith met in the restaurant’s bathroom, where Vendor paid Smith approximately $1,000 in cash. In return for the bribe payments, Vendor expected Smith to use his position and power as Atlanta’s Chief Procurement Officer to assist Vendor with contracting/procurement with Atlanta and to furnish Vendor with future benefits and favors when needed.

Given his position, Smith was required to sign annually a financial disclosure statement certifying that he had not received more than $5,000 in annual income from any corporation, partnership, proprietorship, or other business entity other than Atlanta.  Additionally, under Atlanta’s Procurement Code, Smith also had to “make a written determination as to the existence” of any “personal or organizational conflicts of interest exist” between vendors and Atlanta before awarding a vendor a solicited contract. Similarly, Atlanta’s Procurement Code mandated that Smith “certify to the city council” that the winning vendors had disclosed to Atlanta any “organizational and personal relationships” and that the “award of the contract [was] appropriate.”

Furthermore, in exchange for those cash payments:

  1. Smith met with Vendor on a regular basis;
  2. Smith provided Vendor with information and counsel regarding Atlanta’s procurement processes (among other information);
  3. When Vendor’s firm or joint venture became the successful bidder on an Atlanta contract or Request for Proposal, Smith approved and submitted the award of such procurement projects or bids to Atlanta’s mayor and city council for final authorization;
  4. Smith never disclosed his ongoing financial relationship with Vendor and/or Vendor’s firm on his Financial Disclosure Statements to Atlanta; and
  5. Smith never advised Atlanta’s City Council that the Vendor’s firm or joint venture had failed to disclose its organizational and personal relationships with him.

In total, from at least 2015 to January 2017, Vendor paid Smith more than $30,000 in cash.

Adam L. Smith, 53, Atlanta, Georgia, pleaded guilty to conspiratorial bribery. Sentencing is scheduled for January 16, 2018, before U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation are investigating this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey W.  Davis, Kurt R. Erskine, and Jill E. Steinberg are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office atUSAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

Senior MARTA Executive Pleads Guilty to False Invoice Scam

State & National

United States Attorney John A. Horn

Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2017

http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga

  CONTACT:

Bob Page, PAO

404-581-6016

SENIOR MARTA EXECUTIVE PLEADS GUILTY TO FALSE INVOICE SCAM

CAUSING MARTA TO PAY $500,000 FOR WORK NEVER PERFORMED

 

ATLANTA – Joseph J. Erves, MARTA’s former Senior Director of Operations, has pleaded guilty in federal court to orchestrating a false invoice scheme that resulted in MARTA paying more than $500,000 for maintenance work that was never performed and for funneling most of the money back into his personal bank accounts.

“Erves was entrusted to use taxpayer dollars to operate MARTA effectively and responsibly,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn.  “His theft of $500,000 in MARTA funds was a blatant display of his desire for self-enrichment at the expense of the public interest.”

According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (“MARTA”) is the principal public transportation operator in the Atlanta metropolitan area, providing fixed rail and bus service to more than 500,000 passengers per weekday. Formed in 1965, MARTA is a multi-county governmental agency with a 2016 annual budget of more than $880 million.

From 1993 to 2017, Erves worked for MARTA, ultimately serving as its Senior Director of Operations. In that position, Erves oversaw the maintenance of all of MARTA’s buses and rail cars and had the authority to approve payments up to $10,000 to vendors for work performed on behalf of MARTA.

Beginning in or about 2010, Erves retained three different vendors purportedly to perform maintenance projects for MARTA, including repairing brake testing equipment and fixing various MARTA tools and equipment. From approximately June 2010 to December 2016, Erves had fake invoices prepared on behalf of the three vendors for more than 40 maintenance projects for which no work was performed.

Erves then used the false invoices as bases to authorize payments to the three vendors. In many cases, Erves personally approved payments to the vendors knowing that the vendors had not performed any work for MARTA.

After being paid, the three vendors funneled most of the money received from MARTA into Erves’s personal bank accounts. Subsequently, Erves used the money deposited into his accounts to pay personal expenses, such as multiple purchases at high-end department stores and the purchase of a Porsche 911. Based on Erves’s authority and representations, MARTA paid the three vendors more than $500,000 for maintenance projects where no worked was actually performed.

On August 24, 2017, Erves, 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Erves has pleaded guilty to the information.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the MARTA Police Department are investigating this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jeffrey W. Davis and Alison Prout are prosecuting the case.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office atUSAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.

FBI investigating Fannin County Man exposed to lethal substance Ricin

News

Fannin County sheriff Dane Kirby has confirmed a Fannin County resident, William Christopher Gibbs, drove himself to the local hospital claiming he  had come in contact with the lethal substance Ricin.

Sheriff Kirby said a field test of the car driven by Gibbs did test positive for Ricin.   Ricin is a highly toxic, naturally occurring lectin (a carbohydrate-binding protein) produced in the seeds of the castor oil plant.   A dose of purified ricin powder the size of a few grains of table salt can kill an adult human.

Gibbs,  who is 27 years old and lives in Morganton, GA, was arrested on February 2nd on reckless conduct and probation violation charges.  He is currently incarcerated at Fannin County.

Multiple agencies were at the man’s resident last Friday, February 3rd , including the 4th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team of the Army National Guard and the Cherokee County Fire Department.  The mass response was to ensure the safety of the area.

Federal Bureau of Investigation has stated there is no evidence any toxic substances have been released and there is no belief the public is at risk.  The  FBI will be continuing its investigation.  FYN will update should be information become available.

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