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Officers recover $16K in stolen equipment

POSTED: August 15, 2012 4:00 a.m.
Michele Hester Dawson Community News/

Dawson County Sheriff’s Lt. Ray Goodie documents more than $16,000 in equipment stolen from Banneker High School in Fulton County. The merchandise was found last week in a Dawson County home.

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Three people face theft and drug charges after a probation verification visit turned up more than $16,000 worth of stolen equipment from a new Fulton County high school.

According to the Dawson County Sheriff's Office, 23-year-old Donald B. Watts of Orlando, Fla., was charged with two counts of theft by receiving stolen property, one felony and one misdemeanor, as well as misdemeanor possession of marijuana.

Morgan Elizabeth Nolting, 19, and Tyler Wayne O'Donnell, 20, both of Dawsonville, were charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and theft by receiving stolen property, both of which are felonies.

The arrests came Thursday night after sheriff's deputies found digital cameras, personal computers and band equipment from Banneker High School in the basement of a Hwy. 9 North home. They also discovered an iPad from an unrelated theft case in Watts' vehicle.

Watts, whose bond has been set at $31,200, and O'Donnell remain in custody at the Dawson County Detention Center, jail records show. Nolting was released Aug. 10 on $35,200 bond.

Sheriff's Capt. Tony Wooten said additional charges are possible, noting there also was what appeared to be a stolen wallet at the home.

"Investigators are following up on that now," he said.

According to Wooten, the discovery was made Thursday night when deputies went to the Hwy. 9 home to check on a probationer.

"When they first arrived at the house, they found a [suspicious] pipe, which led to them searching the house and finding about two ounces of marijuana," Wooten said. "They were searching the rest of the house for drugs when they found the stolen equipment [in the basement]."

Wooten said Stephen Knowles, a K9 officer, was familiar with the school theft case and was able to confirm the equipment belonged to Banneker, which is near College Park south of Atlanta.

According to Wooten, Banneker officials had reported some of the items as stolen, but were not aware of how much had been taken.

"This is a new school and one of the suspects had been working there as a contractor," Wooten said.

It was not immediately clear which, if any, of the three suspects was the probationer authorities had gone to visit.

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