From an old-fashioned Pepsi Cola machine to a DeWalt power drill, the hundreds of items filling a trailer in the back lot at the Glynn County Police Department represent unfinished business for investigator Brad Butler.
That drill and the soda cooler are among some $10,000 to $15,000 in stolen goods seized while executing a search warrant July 25 at 232 East Ridge Drive, located off Perry Lane near Cate Road. Police also arrested the alleged thieves of these items during the raid on this home central Glynn County.
Good police work, no doubt. But for Butler, the cases will not be closed until all of the stolen loot is returned to its rightful owners. The items were most likely stolen between June 1 and July 25.
“Our biggest thing is getting it all back to the people it belongs to,” Butler said Monday. “Getting the items back to their owners would be the best-case possible, even if I can’t connect it to the suspects.”
And police say they have plenty of stolen items already to connect with Aaron Christopher Brown and Kristina Renee Brown, the husband and wife who were arrested during that raid last month. Both remained Monday in the Glynn County Detention Center. Aaron Brown, 39, is charged with four counts of theft by receiving stolen property, criminal trespass and violation of parole. He also is being held on a warrant from another agency. Kristina Brown, 34, is charged with theft by received stolen property.
Most of the related theft cases occurred on either Blythe Island or St. Simons Island, Butler said. Police said earlier that the Browns are allegedly tied to several theft cases on Blythe Island, including incidents on Blythe Island Drive, South Teakwood Court, Retreat Place and Midway Circle.
More than a dozen theft cases already have been closed, with the stolen goods returned to their owners, Butler said. Particularly satisfying for the investigator was having the pleasure of returning a trusted old ladder to a worker who has used it on the job for years.
“I had a guy come in, a construction worker,” Butler said. “He said it was his favorite ladder, had it for 20 or 30 years and was just happy to have it back and see it again.”
The stolen goods include items such as industrial vacuums, a lawnmower, a handsaw, landscape sprayers, and an assortment of yard ornaments from steel shorebird sculptures to stone Georgia bulldogs. There also is a Red Bull drink machine in search of its owner.
Some of the items, including a durable ice chest, have been branded with “Coastal Scenery Painting.” Butler said that was Aaron Brown’s company, his alleged attempt to cover his tracks.
But Butler and his fellow officers aim to put all of the stolen goods back in the hands of the rightful owners.
“A lot of this stuff is tools, and it’s stuff that has been taken from people who need it to make their bread and butter,” Butler said. “This what they use to do their job. To be able to return it and get it back into working hands, that is the point of what we want to do here.”
Anyone who has had such items go missing between June 1 and July 25 is asked to call Butler at 912-554-7817.
Following a win by environmental advocates in a federal district court in South Carolina, the state of Georgia — and its 10 co-plaintiffs — are trying to speed up the process of trying to strike down an Obama administration Clean Water Act rule.
On Aug. 16, U.S. District Court Judge David Norton granted summary judgment in favor of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League and eight other environmental groups against Scott Pruitt, the former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA and other defendants, stating, “As administrations change, so do regulatory priorities. But, the requirements of the (Administrative Procedure Act) remain the same.”
Norton found that the Trump administration failed to adhere to the law, which mandated a period for public comment and consideration when Pruitt announced the suspension of the Waters of the United States rule through 2020. Norton wrote, “By refusing to allow public comment and consider the merits of the WOTUS rule and the 1980s regulation, the agencies did not allow a ‘meaningful opportunity’ to comment. As such, the court finds that the agencies were arbitrary and capricious in promulgating the suspension rule.”
The 2015 WOTUS regulation is defined differently by the folks on differing sides of the debate, but when it went into effect, the EPA defined it as protecting “streams and wetlands that are scientifically shown to have the greatest impact on downstream water quality and form the foundation of our nation’s water resources.”
The state of Georgia already received a preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court in Brunswick in June, as Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled the state made its case that it and the other plaintiffs had a good chance at winning their case if it went to its conclusion, along with meeting standards on the balance of harms and the public interest. The injunction also covers Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Because of the combination of different lawsuits in different jurisdictions, the WOTUS ruling in South Carolina does not apply to that state, which is covered by the aforementioned preliminary injunction. However, the South Carolina ruling did reopen the applicability of the WOTUS regulation in 26 other states.
In the states’ motion submitted Thursday to the Brunswick court, the states argued the South Carolina ruling “underscores the need to move forward and decide the merits of the states’ challenges to the legality of the WOTUS rule in this case. To that end, the state respectfully note that their motion to set a briefing schedule — which had proposed next Friday, Aug. 31, 2018, as the initial date for filing motions for summary judgment — remains pending.”
The states filed the briefing schedule motion Aug. 2. It laid out Friday as the first deadline, with other briefing deadlines scheduled for Oct. 10, Nov. 7 and Nov. 28. The states’ motion shows the defendant agencies, and intervenors on both the plaintiff and defendant side, all agreed to the proposed schedule.