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Warren County businessman turns himself in on theft charges

A Warren County businessman has been freed on bond from the McDuffie County Law Enforcement Center in Thomson after turning himself in to face charges involving an ongoing investigation being conducted by law enforcement authorities in Georgia and South Carolina.

The case involves the recent recovery of an estimated $500,000 worth of heavy construction equipment, which reportedly was stolen from the Palmetto State, law enforcement officials said.

Michael Henry "Mickey" English, of 1971 Gibson Highway, Warrenton, turned himself in to authorities shortly before 1 p.m. Monday, according to Gary Nicholson, special agent in-charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 Office in Thomson. The 45-year-old Mr. English has been charged with six counts of theft by receiving stolen property and three counts of operating a chop shop, Agent Nicholson told The McDuffie Mirror.

The chop shop charges stem from the discovery that altered identification numbers were found on some of the stolen equipment, Agent Nicholson said.

Mr. English, who operates English Maintenance and Mechanical, Inc., off the Macon Highway near Warrenton, was released from jail at 6:30 p.m. Monday, according to a jail spokeswoman. He is free under $90,000 bail.

Repeated attempts to reach Mr. English for comment at his home and his business on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

Agent Nicholson said he could not say at this time whether or not any other arrests would be made in connection with the case, noting that the investigation remains ongoing by the GBI and deputies with the Warren County Sheriff's Department. Prosecutors with the Toombs Judicial Circuit also have been involved in the investigation.

The case began unfolding back in March when Officer Michael May of the Georgia Department of Public Safety Motor Compliance Division made a traffic stop on a tractor-trailer truck that was hauling a John Deere Model 450 bulldozer in Glascock County on March 5. It later was learned by authorities that the bulldozer had been stolen from Lexington County, S.C., on or about March 15, 2002, according to court documents - copies of which were obtained by the newspaper.

GBI Special Agent David Leonard learned that the bulldozer was owned by Mr. English, who reportedly had purchased it from "an unknown person" through a sales publication. In an effort to verify that he owned the piece of equipment, Agent Leonard discovered that the bill of sale shown to him by Mr. English "does not match the actual number on the bulldozer," court records show.

As a result of that information, GBI agents launched a more intense investigation - one that included the assistance of the Warren County Sheriff's Department, Glascock County Sheriff's Department, Georgia State Patrol and Georgia Department of Natural Resources.

Other pieces of stolen heavy construction equipment were recovered in various parts of Warren County, Agent Nicholson said.

Web posted on Thursday, April 17, 2008

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