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3 charged with shoplifting from Best Buy

3 charged with shoplifting from Best Buy

ACWORTH, Ga. -- Three people were arrested last Thursday for shoplifting from an Acworth Best Buy.

The incident began when a retired police officer noticed a man and woman acting suspicious inside the store in the 3300 block of Cobb Parkway.

Investigators said the former police officer watched the man and woman climb into a tagless Dodge van driven by a second man. The officer followed the van down Cobb Parkway and noticed it suddenly began sporting an Illinois license plate.

The officer called Cobb County Police, who caught up with the van at a gas station. Several items were recovered from inside the vehicle, including electronic merchandise and about $7,000 in cash.

Acworth Police Capt. Mark Cheatham said police found a mechanism attached to the van's console; when activated, it would hide the vehicle's license plate. Investigators also discovered a small device used to block the frequency of alarm systems at retail store exits.

Cobb 'Santa Claus' gets 15 years probation for theft

Cobb 'Santa Claus' gets 15 years probation for theft

ACWORTH, Ga. -- An Acworth man who played Santa Claus during a Shop with a Cop event will now spend 15 years on probation from stealing money from his company.

Ronald Joseph Papaleoni, 70, pleaded guilty Wednesday to five counts of theft. He admitted to taking thousands of dollars from the Lake Allatoona Preservation Authority (LAPA). Papaleoni's company, Premier Management, handled the authority's funds.

Prosecutors said that between 2007 and 2009, Papaleoni wrote multiple checks to himself from LAPA while working as its general manager. Cobb County Assistant District Attorney Jason Marbutt said he believes Papaleoni took $150,000, but the defense argued the total amount was much less.

Mo. teens charged with stealing truck

Mo. teens charged with stealing truck

ACWORTH, Ga. -- Acworth Police have charged two Missouri teenagers with stealing a truck at gunpoint.

The victim told investigators his GMC truck was taken July 1 at around 1:30 a.m. in the 5000 block of Cherokee Street, just north of Logan Farm Park. He described the suspects as two young white men.

Police later found the GMC's license plate in a trash can, then later located the truck outside Acworth city limits.

They also found an abandoned Volkswagen Beetle without a license plate on Collins Circle. Acworth Police Capt. Mark Cheatham said investigators ran the Beetle's VIN and determined it had been reported stolen in Missouri.

Evidence in both cases led police to 17-year-old Cody Michael Kelley Gains and a 16-year-old suspect. Cheatham said both teens were being investigated by the Jefferson County (Mo.) Sheriff's Office for a number of armed robberies, including that of the Beetle.

Speech therapy provider sentenced for Medicaid fraud

Speech therapy provider sentenced for Medicaid fraud

ACWORTH, Ga. -- The owner and operator of a Cobb County speech therapy clinic has been sentenced to two years in prison for defrauding Georgia Medicaid.

Timothy Robinson pleaded guilty in April to one count of Medicaid fraud. He will also spend eight years on probation after getting out of prison.

Robinson owned Acworth-based Robinson Rehabilitation Services, which employed four speech therapists. Prosecutors said Robinson used the employees' provider numbers to bill Georgia Medicaid for services not provided, even after the therapists no longer worked for him. The scheme netted him more than half a million dollars.

As part of his sentence, Robinson must pay $582,484.71 in restitution to the Georgia Department of Community Health.

Realtor admits to stealing from homes for sale

Realtor admits to stealing from homes for sale

COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- A Florida man has pleaded guilty to entering homes for sale and stealing from them while working as a real estate agent in Cobb County.

Ray Glen Greene, 49, admitted in court that he used his agent keycode to access the homes and take jewelry and other items. He was convicted of eight counts each of burglary and theft by taking, and was sentenced to 20 years, with eight to serve in custody.

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Several of Greene's victims attended his trial. Greene apologized to them and admitted he lost count of the number of houses he burglarized. He told the court that he did not sell a single home in more than a year and supported himself by pawning the stolen jewelry.

5 men indicted in 2 Kennesaw gang shootings

5 men indicted in 2 Kennesaw gang shootings

KENNESAW, Ga. -- Five Cobb County men have been indicted in two gang-related shootings in Kennesaw.

The defendants include Christopher Davis, 17, of Acworth; Alexander Market, 18, of Acworth; Brian McCary, 20, of Kennesaw; Timothy Reddie, 21, of Marietta; and Kristian Williams, 18, of Austell. They have been charged with aggravated assault, criminal property damage, firearm possession and violating Georgia's Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.

All five men are believed to be involved in two shootings in Kennesaw's Legacy Park neighborhood. Kennesaw Police said the shootings occurred in November 2013 and January 2014, and no one was hurt in them.

Prosecutors said the defendants are members of the Piru Bloods gang, and that the shootings were a response to a young man's decision to leave the gang.

Man sentenced for stealing prisoners' identities

ACWORTH, Ga. -- A Cobb County man will spend 10 years and one month in federal prison for stealing victims' identities and using them to collect millions of dollars in fraudulent tax refunds.

Bradford Thomas, 47, pleaded guilty last November to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He must also spend three years on supervised release after getting out of prison and pay more than $1.6 million in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Thomas submitted more than 1,200 phony tax returns to the IRS between January 2010 and May 2013. He used the names and Social Security numbers of several victims, most of whom were inmates.

Yates said the scheme netted Thomas about $5.5 million, more than $1.6 million of which was taxpayer money.