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Paving scam suspect arrested in Indiana

Facing charges here, Florida

POSTED: March 28, 2012 4:00 a.m.

Local authorities are awaiting the extradition of a suspect who reportedly swindled an elderly Dawson County man out of more than $8,000.

Johnny Shane Wells, 21, of North Augusta, S.C., was arrested in Shelbyville, Ind., in mid-March after a bank employee alerted police to a possible suspicious check.

While the investigation revealed the check Wells was attempting to cash had not been altered, it also determined authorities in Florida and Georgia had warrants for his arrest.

Dawson County Sheriff's Inv. Jarrett Simpson said Wells is wanted locally in connection with an asphalt paving scam. In early March, he allegedly demanded "an exorbitant payment" after performing substandard work on the elderly man's driveway.

According to Simpson, Wells was part of a group that approached the man at his home off Lula Garrett Road. They claimed to be state road workers who could repave his driveway for about $1 per square foot.

At that estimate, the man would have paid $3,200. Instead, he was charged $8,000.

"The victim, he's 80 years old and walker dependent," Simpson said. "According to his account, when they returned, they moved the walker out of his reach, wrote out the check and got him to sign it."

Wells then cashed the check at a local bank.

Simpson said the county's engineer, Corey Guthrie, inspected the paving work.

"He said it looked like recycled asphalt, where someone had ground up the road for the purpose of resurfacing," Simpson said. "It has some tar to it or looks like it was going to stick, so it will stick, but within a matter of a month, it will wash away."

Investigators believe others were involved, though Wells is the only person charged so far in the local case. He faces one count of theft by deception.

"The check was made out to him, and he is who we have on video cashing the check," said Simpson, adding that Wells will face similar charges in Florida before extradition to Dawson County.

Similar scams happen around the same time each year and typically target the elderly, according to Sheriff's Lt. Ray Goodie.

"This is the first report we've had this year, but we want to let the community know we have had reports," Goodie said.

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