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Local accountant indicted in theft case

Additional charges likely, authorities say

POSTED: October 6, 2010 4:00 a.m.

A local accountant arrested two years ago on theft charges has been indicted again by a Dawson County grand jury.


Warren H. Pennington, 61, is awaiting trial for allegedly funneling for his personal and business expenses more than $40,000 that clients had placed in accounts to pay income tax liabilities.


Pennington has been under investigation by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office since summer 2008, when he was accused of taking more than $60,000 from client’s escrow accounts set up as a tax shelter.


He was acquitted on the single theft by conversion charge, but arrested again about three months later on nine additional theft by conversion counts.


Sheriff’s Major John Cagle said the Sept. 13 indictments “go into a little bit more detail to specifics.”


“It’s really the same kind of charges, but we just wanted to more particularize the indictment as to specific dates and date ranges,” he said.


The indictment, which charges Pennington with five counts of theft by conversion and seven counts of theft by taking between December 2004 and December 2007, also names more than a dozen local businesses as alleged victims.


Pennington declined to comment on the matter, directing questions to his attorney. 


Calls to the attorney, Brett Turner, were not immediately returned.


According to the Dawson County District Attorney’s office, the case has been continued until early December.


Cagle said additional charges are likely against Pennington after his office received a similar theft report last month.


Zack Caruso, former owner of Zack’s Wings in Dawsonville, said he hired Pennington to oversee payroll for the restaurant.


“Yeah, I knew about the investigation, but I thought he was my friend,” Caruso said.


Caruso said he gave Pennington cash that was intended to cover payroll taxes.

In August, Caruso began receiving notices from the IRS that the taxes had not been paid.


“I’m still shocked,” he said.


Cagle said Caruso’s complaint is nearly identical to the other thefts in which Pennington is charged.


“I think he (Caruso) had made some efforts to get with Warren to get this handled and it really sounds to me like the same problem that some of the other victims had early on when they started getting notices,” Cagle said.


“So I would say it’s very similar to the other allegations. It’s very, very similar.”


The sheriff’s office began an investigation into Pennington after the arrest of his former office manager, Vivian Miles, in summer 2008.


Miles, who was charged with 22 counts of computer theft, pleaded guilty in May to taking more than $93,000 from client accounts. She received a 10-year prison sentence.


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