A Dawson County businessman with deep roots in the community was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years, with a year to serve in custody, for his involvement in a theft ring.
David Kermit Turner, 52, will be eligible for work release after spending 30 days in the local jail, Northeastern Judicial Circuit Judge Kathlene Gosselin said during sentencing.
He was convicted May 7 by a jury in Dawson County on two counts of theft by receiving, one count of theft by receiving motor vehicle and one count of possessing a vehicle with the identification removed.
Turner, who was sentenced as a first offender, must also complete 500 hours of community service, a provision Gosselin said would "be the most beneficial thing you can do to atone for what you've done in the community."
He faced a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison on the felony charges.
Turner was arrested in the summer of 2007 after the Georgia Bureau of Investigation recovered nearly $1 million in stolen property during searches of his home and shop on Hwy. 53, just east of Dawsonville.
Among the items found were a customized Monte Carlo race car and several tractor-trailer storage containers.
Gosselin said she had a hard time believing Turner did not know the items were stolen.
"Clearly, you are not an unintelligent person. I don't think that you're 52 and this naive," Gosselin said.
According to court testimony, Turner had knowledge that the Monte Carlo, which was found disassembled on his property, and the containers had been stolen.
Jesse David “Buddy” Lankford, his daughter and her then boyfriend pleaded guilty last year in Putnam County to their roles in the thefts.
Lankford testified that he would steal the containers and bring them for a price to Turner’s property, which the defendant had touted as safe because of his lifelong connections to the community.
Turner maintains his innocence.
Tuesday morning he said he was embarrassed and sorry he ever met Lankford.
Turner then apologized to his family.
"I'm sorry I put my family through this. I'm sorry to everyone who was hurt and suffered," he said.
Turner’s attorney, Alan Begner of Atlanta, said prosecutors should expect an appeal.