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Man pleads guilty to Lumpkin church thefts
Suspects cases in Dawson remain active
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A Dahlonega man pleaded guilty last week to his part in a string of church burglaries in Lumpkin County.

In exchange for his negotiated plea, Skyler William Michaelson, 21, was sentenced to 24 years with the 10 to be served in jail, according to the Lumpkin County Sheriff's Office.

Michaelson was arrested last summer in connection with thefts at more than a dozen churches in Lumpkin and Dawson counties.

He was charged with eight counts of burglary in connection with thefts from nine churches in the Dahlonega area, according to Lumpkin County Sheriff Stacy Jarrard.

Johnny Roque, 18, of Dahlonega was also arrested on similar theft charges.

Authorities in both counties said the pair took an estimated $40,000 in musical equipment and electronics from more than a dozen churches between February and July of last year.

The arrests came after a parishioner at Corinth Church in Dahlonega launched his own search and found items missing from the church on Craigslist.

From there, Lumpkin investigators set up a sting in an attempt to buy stolen items.

It was during the undercover operation that Michaelson fled and led authorities on a chase that ended off Harmony Church Road in Dawson County.

Jarrard was later able to convince Michaelson to come out of the woods and surrender.

"We were very fortunate that he was able to search and find some of the items," Jarrard said.

Michaelson also has been charged with several traffic violations in connection with the car chase, as well as a parole violation.

Michaelson also faces similar charges in Dawson, where 12 churches were burglarized during the first few months of 2014.

Maj. Ray Goodie said the cases against both men remain active in Dawson County.