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Two plead guilty for thefts

POSTED: November 18, 2009 4:00 a.m.

Guilty pleas by two White County men have closed the files on several burglaries in Dawson and four other counties.


Zachary Paul Ashe, 20, and Tanner Elliott Butler, 21, pleaded guilty to more than 27 theft-related charges on Nov. 10 in Dawson County Superior Court.


Both men were sentenced to 20 years with five years to serve after admitting to burglarizing several homes and cars in the Chestatee subdivision last January.


In exchange for their pleas, the five-year sentences will be suspended upon serving 12 months in the Dawson County Detention Center, followed by 90 to 120 days in a boot camp.


After that, they must spend 240 to 270 days in a department of corrections custody and intensive probation.


The pair must also pay $3,500 in fines and $1,080 in restitution to the Dawson County victims.


Ashe and Butler are also required to pay several thousand dollars in fines and restitution in Hall, Lumpkin, Gwinnett and White counties, where court documents show they admitted to similar burglaries.


Northeastern Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney John Wilbanks said authorities in those counties agreed to accept the suspects’ pleas without additional jail time.


“Hopefully, after this extensive time in jail and under extensive supervision, they will never make the same criminal decisions again,”  said Wilbanks, adding that neither man had a prior criminal record.


The pleas were entered under first offenders treatment.


Wilbanks said if either man violates probation any time within the next 20 years, they could be sentenced to the maximum.


“With all the charges, it would be over 500 years,” he said.


Ashe and Butler were arrested in mid-January in Lumpkin County following reports they had broken into vehicles.


Dawson County Investigator Ray Goodie determined the men fit the descriptions of suspects in similar thefts in the Chestatee neighborhood.


Local authorities said nearly all of the some $7,000 in golf clubs, power tools, GPS devices and other items taken in Dawson County was recovered and returned to the owners.


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