Vagrant activity on the property owned by the Bagiatis family in the 400 block of Ponce has recently escalated into a major magnet for drug activity. Every night up to 20 individuals camp in the storefronts of the 461/463 building (Domino’s Pizza, Best Wings, and the Ace Cash Express) and around the freestanding 447 building (Chico & Chang’s). The dark area behind Chico & Chang’s is also a spot for chronic nuisance loitering and drug activity generated by street people allowed to remain there. The photo gallery accompanying this post attests to vagrant activity – a tent in the rear, litter accumulation, and furniture parts around the property.
Drug activity runs rampant among these offenders, who can often be seen smoking crack on the property day and night. On 9/26/2014 Police arrested Tamiko Castillo and Cecil Smith for possession of crack cocaine on that property. After release from jail they reappeared on that property. The arrest occurred at the tables outside of Chico & Chang’s during daytime hours. David Swain was arrested on 10/16/2014 for possession of cocaine, near that location. He had been spending considerable time on the that property in the days leading up to this arrest. Swain has been on our watchlist for quite some time.
Drug dealing is also taking place on this property. People frequently come to the property to buy drugs, and they are clearly are not patronizing any of the establishments there. The typical scenario: the buyer will park at the rear of Chico & Chang’s, make contact with one of the street people, and then wait for someone to return to the site. After the transaction the buyer drives off. During that time these buyers never go to the building, let alone buy food.
These offenders present an adverse effect on the surrounding area, ranging from aggressive panhandling to serious criminal activity such as breaking into cars. On 7/23/2014 APD units caught James Avery Booker in the act of entering a vehicle and stealing items from it. In the days leading up to that he had been camping on the 461 property and loitering in the surrounding area. After release from jail he reappeared in the area, and frequented the that property at night. While he has not been seen in several weeks, he has a history of coming and going in the Ponce & Boulevard area. Enoch Prince, aka “Disco”, has been obtrusively begging in nearby traffic for years – he often appears on that property. Another individual frequenting this drug nest can be seen begging aggressively in traffic stopped on Ponce (see linked video).
Jackie Sue Hunter, one of the most notable criminals on our watchlist, keeps a high profile on that property. Almost every morning she can be seen at the tables at Chico & Chang’s. She was the most visible prostitute on Ponce when MPSA started operations in 2003. She has been criminally active since the 1970s, with the earliest case we have found dating back to a 1976 charge for unlawful manufacture, delivery, distribution, possession, or sale of a noncontrolled substances. In probably her most notable case, she was among three criminals charged in 1980 with Murder and Armed Robbery. Her murder charge is showing on court records as having been dead-docketed, but she was convicted for the armed robbery. Department of Corrections records show that she served five years in prison for that. The main co-defendant in the case, a Gene Saunders, was convicted of both the robbery and murder, and was sentenced to life. A third woman was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and robbery in the case. Since then Jackie has continued quite a life of crime, as reflected by the many cases found for her in Fulton, Dekalb Counties, and Cobb Counties. We have video footage of her engaging in what strongly appear to be drug transactions.
Businesses on the site compound the problem – most notably Domino’s and Chico & Chang’s. From what we see while conducting observation work across the street, Chico & Chang’s does too little to stop the loitering on the property. Street people loiter on the property for extended periods at their outdoor tables and behind the business. Domino’s Pizza workers have been observed on several occasions taking pizza outside to the street people loitering and camping outside. We are seeking to exert pressure on these businesses and the property owner to give due consideration to the detrimental effects that this open-air drug activity inflicts on the surrounding community.
We have furnished our documentation to the Atlanta Police Department (excerpt here), and they are proactively working to address the criminal activity and public disorder there. Below we have posted pictures and a video of conditions at that location, along with pictures of the mentioned offenders.
Picture set 1: Scenes from this drug nest:
Picture set 2: Offenders named in this report
Video showing conditions on and around this property.
Where they are not coming from
Channel 2 ran a story on Monday during its newscast about a number of inmates at the Atlanta Transitional Center on Ponce with a sentence status of “life” with a background of (nominally) very dangerous offenses. After seeing Channel 2′s story we took another look at the place, and still believe that our long-standing observations still hold. But our research did turn up 30 offenders among that facility’s stated capacity of 257 with a sentence status of “life.” Those among the ones we found are in there mostly for murder, but also some armed robbers and rapists are among them. Only one was a minor (14) at the time of offense. Factoring out that one minor (now 32 years old), the average age at time of offense was around 27. While it may seem scary that this facility has 30 inmates currently incarcerated for murder, rape, and armed robbery, a mitigating factor lies in the fact that these inmates committed these offenses 20-30 years ago for the most part, with one case dating back to 1975. We have never known for that facility to house a Charles Manson or a Lawrence Singleton.
When searching for those with a sentence status of “Life, no parole” we get no hits among present and past inmates there. The only limitation in our information is that a facility search only turns up inmates whose latest institution is the Transitional Facility. Recidivists and violators would not turn up in this search criteria – those offenders would have a most-recent facility of somewhere else. Details and important data regarding recidivists, absconders (absconding from this facility is technically considered to be an escape), and re-assignment would have to come from more extensive research.
Other than the listed offense and calculating age based on data, nothing is known about the circumstances under which these crimes occurred. But in our ten years of operations, we have not known for inmates in that facility to cause trouble for the surrounding neighborhood nor have we known for any offenders to remain in the area after release from there, other than one unusual case that came with plenty of reassurance that this individual would offend no further.
Our experience and observations regarding the transitional center
The Atlanta Men’s Transitional Center on Ponce houses pre-release inmates for the Georgia Department of Corrections, who are technically incarcerated but are allowed to leave the facility to go to jobs out in the city. It is not like they are able to come and go as they please, and they live under supervision. Whenever they are not at work, they are to remain inside that facility. They go to their jobs following specific routes prescribed on a case-by-case basis. As we understand it, only very low-risk inmates get the privilege of being assigned to that facility. Inmates who violate the rules, or do not return promptly from work or other authorized leave, are quickly remanded back to a higher-security facility. Except for a brief stop at a convenience store (likely requires permission), there is no interaction between the Transitional Center and the surrounding community.
In the ten years we have been in operation, we have never had any issues with inmates at the Transitional Center on Ponce. Only one of the criminals we have indexed (currently over 300) has been known to have finished a previous sentence there – he has been out of the system for several years and has not re-offended or even re-appeared in Midtown. The inmates there always return to other areas of the state. Furthermore, at least one of our member businesses routinely employs inmates from the Transitional Center through a re-entry job program, and none of them have ever generated problems for the community. Despite watching this place closely for ten years like we do with other factors affecting the neighborhood, we just don’t have any dangerous or even problematic situations involving this place to report to you. As far as we can tell, the program at the Transitional Center is working as it should.
Most Common Criminal Profiles in the MPSA Service Area
1. Inmates released directly from medium and maximum-security facilities
We have problems with inmates being released from medium and maxim facilities directly into the community and then appear or (usually) re-appear at places like Ponce & Boulevard where they pursue a life of street drugs and the criminal activity going along with it. These criminals are not going through any kind of rehabilitative programs, and have no intentions of moving beyond a life of crime.
They leave prison and go straight to Peachtree-Pine, the Open Door Community, or a motel like the Savannah Suites [Check out the reviews!] or the Ponce Hotel, and from there they quickly snap back into their life of street crime that got them into prison in the first place. The fact that they immediately come back to a drug & street criminal culture like that in Bedford-Pine, at Ponce & Boulevard, or among the trans prostitute gang clearly reflects their intentions to continue a life of street crime. We are also seeing parolees leaving prison and re-entering one of these groups of criminals driving the need for the MPSA.
On this point we generally oppose early release of offenders whose sentence emanated from cases involving Midtown. Since they are generally released directly from medium and maximum security facilities, without a chance to adequately test their fitness for life beyond prison walls (via transitional programs), we are unable to feel assured that we will not have any further problems with these offenders. In fact our experience has shown that the majority of Midtown-related inmates quickly resume a life of crime that got them locked up in the first place. In order to better protect Midtowners, we work to stop the release of such offenders back into the community.
2. Fulton County’s Drug Court and lax sentencing patterns
The failures of Fulton County’s Drug Court program very negatively affects conditions in the neighborhood. Too many Drug Court criminals slip away from the program only to return to Ponce & Boulevard and resume their same old criminal way of life. Our index of known criminals is full of those who have played the system by way of the Drug Court, and it is that segment that causes most trouble for us, by far. Fulton County tends to recycle chronic offenders through these programs, and often despite advanced stages of criminal living. In researching criminals coming to our attention, we often find references to drug programs despite very long criminal histories (Usually by Judge Downs or Judge Lovett).
We have also seen scores of criminals in Midtown who were sentenced to probation running concurrently with existing sentences. These offenders are also sent into court-mandated rehab programs over and over. We can certainly understand probation and rehab programs for first-time offenders. However we find it highly inappropriate to apply these kinds of sentences to those who have clearly demonstrated incorrigibility. As a result, the greater community continues to suffer the results of these criminals’ dedication to a life of crime.
Notables among these kinds of criminals:
While these are for the most part obviously not as serious as murder, rape and armed robbery, these are the kinds of offenders most intensively afflicting Midtowners. Many of the street prostitutes on our watch list remain chronic criminals in large part because of Fulton County sentencing practices. Also some of the robbery suspects in incidents earlier this year had been through Drug Court. Here are some examples from our actual experience with street criminals, and the presence of these kinds of criminals synergizes into an inordinate volume of patrol and public security needs for the neighborhood:
Daniel Holt burglarized a home in the neighborhood after having served three prison sentences and having been recycled through the drug court program.
Donald Rayfield, was imprisoned for a burglary just across the Beltline and was seen loitering on Ponce again within a week of release from prison. Previously he headed straight to Ponce after being released from prison in South Carolina, and went to jail on average of about every 45 days. He is currently in Dekalb County jail on auto-theft charges. The car belonged to someone living just south of our service area. http://www.midtownponce.org/ptag/donald-rayfield
Jackie Sue Hunter served a prison sentence for possession of firearm by convicted felon, and upon release immediately checked into the Ponce Hotel and resumed her life of street prostitution at Ponce & Boulevard. We continue to see her on Ponce regularly despite a judicial banishment from most counties in Georgia.
Kenneth Lamb, a three-time rapist who served 20 years during his latest prison sentence, headed straight for the drugs on Ponce. From there he started his menacing conduct, and has walked away from all court-mandated rehab programs resulting from several criminal cases since his release from prison.
Michael Blackmon was paroled from a sentence for trafficking methamphetamines. and appeared in Midtown almost immediately. His life of drugs on parole escalated into a burglary in the neighborhood. Despite being on parole for trafficking methamphetamines, Judge Downs sentenced him to drug rehab in 2011 on a meth charge. A few months later, he burglarized a house in Midtown. Again, Judge Downs only sentenced him to probation running concurrently with existing sentences. He did get his parole revoked and is now back in prison serving the remainder of his original sentence.
Jonathan Wells has been processed through Fulton County’s drug court program, and went on to burglary and other crimes. He was among the “Three Burglateers” in 2008 and did serve two years in prison. Upon release he came back to Ponce, and since then has been arrested on drug and theft charges. Judge Dempsey sentenced him to a residential treatment program in a case after his three prior prison stints. He was arrested this week for shoplifting, and last week he was seen by neighborhood watch prowling around on St. Charles Avenue during the overnight hours.
Andrew Arnett is another criminal that has been playing the system in Fulton County for years. Every time he is sentenced for a felony he ends up being sentenced to rehab and probation concurrent with existing probation. And every time his criminal activity becomes worse. He was finally sentenced to incarceration in a Gwinnett County burglary case, but that sentence runs out in September. Given that he likes to be near Gay bars (he had been a problem for most of the ones on Ponce), he will likely re-appear in our area. For that we stand a high risk that his next offense will take place right here in Midtown.
Lee Arthur Kynard, has for years, been in and out of jail for car break-ins and other offenses. Judge Downs put him through Drug Court in 2008, despite plenty of criminal history going into this. Kynard went on to breaking into more cars – he was arrested several more times afterwards. It was not until his last case that he was finally sentenced to a prison term (46 months). Atlanta Police believe that he was driving car break-ins along 10th Street last year.
Lee Arthur Kynard, who was arrested on April 29th as he was snooping around cars in the Park Tavern parking lot, was released from jail earlier this month. This vagrant has been effectively living inside of Piedmont Park since his release, and has been observed prowling around in the 10th & Monroe area. He will likely be a suspect in any car break-ins taking place in that area, according to our APD sources. If you see this individual (mugshots at link below) acting suspiciously please report him to the police immediately.
Andrew Samples, who was arrested earlier this year for dealing drugs at Ponce & Kennesaw, did not show up for a final plea hearing. He continues to appear chronically in the Ponce & Boulevard area. Once the bench warrant for failure to appear makes it into the system, he will be arrested. His status will be checked daily until he is back in jail. He is among the dope boys regularly seen loitering and sitting on those tree wells at Ponce & Kennesaw.
One of his buddies, Melvin Campbell, was arrested on 6/14 at the same location for selling cocaine. He was released two days later. Previous arrests include possession of stolen property and a firearm by convicted felon in 2011, and a warrant out of Kentucky in 2009. He often loiters and walks around in the Ponce & Boulevard area with his pants partially pulled down, a fashion statement of sorts that glorifies prison culture. We’re sure the Georgia Department of Corrections has a spot for him so we will court watch him too.
Jackie Sue Hunter is up to her old tricks again. She was arrested in Dekalb County for Theft by conversion. We imagine that her arrest in Fulton County on a warrant from Dekalb County sufficiently shows that she has no intention of complying with her banishment from nearly all of the state of Georgia as a result of a previous felony. We hope that one of the District Attorneys will pursue a probation revocation charge for her. We may be on the brink of a historic moment for Ponce de Leon Avenue, since she stands a good chance of receiving a lengthy prison sentence from Dekalb County. Such would put an end to her 40-year crime wave on Ponce (she began pursuing prostitution and other criminal activity on Ponce in the mid-1970′s). She has been on our radar since the very inception of the MPSA…
Mugshots courtesy of the Fulton Sheriff Department
Jackie Sue Hunter continues to live her life dedicated to a wide array of criminal activity. She was banished from most of the state of Georgia, but continues to blatantly appear on Ponce on a regular basis. She is most notorious as a prostitute on Ponce since the mid-1970s, where she was a fixture in the Ponce & Boulevard area in the very early days of the MPSA. She has served several prison sentences for various offenses, including armed robbery, all kinds of theft and drug crimes, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. This one-woman crime wave, as one of our major informants describes her, now awaits charges of prostitution. Because she is on felony probation for auto theft that includes banishment, we do not understand why Fulton County continues to let her pursue a life devoted to crime in the community. Her Department of Corrections rap sheet includes scores of aliases that she has accumulated since she first appeared as a prostitute almost 40 years ago.
Kenneth Lamb has once again re-emerged in the neighborhood. On March 2nd, he was arrested at Piedmont & 8th for Criminal Trespassing, Possession of Cocaine, and Terroristic Threats. Prosecutors later tacked on charges for violation of the sex offender registry requirements. He was released from prison last September, and already the next month he was arrested somewhere in Southwest Atlanta. After a month in jail, he was turned loose again into the community. He was arrested again in February and put back on the streets ten days later.
Lamb has been the subject of our court watch efforts several times in recent years. In October 2010 he faced several charges, and Judge Schwall assured the court and community members present that if he continued to violate a banishment from Fulton County resulting from a previous conviction, Lamb would be sent back to prison “for a very long time.” He is known as the barefoot panhandler who menaced people in the Midtown and Virginia Highland area. This dangerous individual has a long history of drug use, terroristic threats, and rape. He has spent most of his adult life in prison, including a fully-served 20-year sentence for rape. Public records now show 16 bookings for him in the Fulton County jail alone over the last six years.
Michael Kevin Blackmon, who was arrested last year for a burglary on 6th Street, had his parole revoked and was sent back home to prison. His full sentence for trafficking meth, for which he was paroled in 2010, runs until 2015. Until recently, parole records showed a stated address at 8th & Piedmont.
Another court watch oldie, Tywong McCoy, remains in prison. In December we sent a letter to the Parole Board, and they replied that they will make it a permanent part of his file. He was not granted parole in February, and is expected to serve out the rest of his sentence (until December 2012).
IN A NUTSHELL:
- 10 Arrests
- 22 Calls for service via 911
- 16 Additional calls for service/assistance via the MPSA Patrol hotline
- 11 Members took advantage of the out-of-town property check program
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PATROL LOGS:
Entire Month – Sgt Cooper continued the Early Morning Watch to relieve the prostitution problem
Early Month – Sgt Cooper addressed an issue with a vacant property on St Charles/Lakeview. The property had an open door, and was overgrown with Kudzu. A vagrant camp was in the Kudzu. The vagrants were removed, a neighbor called the owner and the property was cleaned up by September 19.
9/02 – Two subjects arrested (separate incidents) for pedestrian in roadway
9/07 – Andrew Henderson, a trans prostitute, was found to have a warrant for assault. He remains in the Fulton County jail as of this writing.
9/09 – Subject arrested for possession of Cocaine and Obstruction
9/12 – Sgt Cooper had two abandoned cars towed. Five-day stickers had been applied on August 29.
9/14 – Eloise M., a chronic panhandler, was arrested for panhandling in the roadway at Monroe & Ponce.
9/16 – Subject arrested for pedestrian in the roadway. This subject has 20 prior arrests noted at the Fulton County jail alone – mostly for petty offenses like criminal trespassing and disorderly conduct. He does have a few (mostly older) terroristic threats and burglary arrests on his record.
9/20 – Eloise M., a chronic panhandler, was arrested as pedestrian in roadway for the second time this month.
9/21 – Sgt Cooper participated in a Midtown Meeting at Escorpion with Maj Leighty.
9/22 – Sgt Cooper responded to a burglary on 9th Street. Entry was through the back door.
9/23 – Sgt Cooper met with management of a business regarding an ongoing parking issue.
9/23 – Subject arrested for disorderly conduct – tricks and schemes
9/27 – Eloise M., a chronic panhandler, was arrested for panhandling in roadway for the third time this month.
9/27 – Sgt Cooper stopped Edward B. for traffic charges – DUI, and found him to have a Fulton County Warrant for shoplifting. He has several prior arrests for shoplifting in Fulton County.
9/29 – Jackie Sue Hunter, a street criminal on Ponce since the 1970s and who has been judicially banished from the area, was sighted on Ponce de Leon Avenue. We are seeking assistance from the Fulton County DA’s office in dealing with her ongoing criminal activity in our neighborhood.
Donald Rayfield, a street hustler who wasted no time getting back to his drug life on Ponce after being released from prison, has been locked up again. He had served two years for a burglary in the area before being released in June. His new charges are Theft by Receiving Stolen Auto and Giving False Info to Police. He appears almost daily at Ponce & Boulevard. We will proactively court-watch him until he is sent back to prison.
Brandon Burchfield, the subject of a previous article regarding the shortcomings of drug court, has been sent to Bainbridge Substance Abuse Center. This is run by the Georgia Department of Corrections. He has been arrested at least a half dozen times this year alone on felony charges, and is reputed to peddle stolen goods in the Ponce & Boulevard area.
Spencer S., who used to frequent Ponce & Boulevard for illicit purposes, cropped up again in the jail logs. He was arrested almost a year ago when he attempted to break into a business on Cheshire Bridge Rd. As part of his sentence he was to pursue a drug rehab program. He was recently locked up on charges of loitering/prowling and public drunkeness. This is another example of how defendants play the system in the drug court program.
Walt W., who was arrested last year for possession of stolen motor scooters, has moved away from the area. Police discovered the motor scooters when they went to the property looking for street criminal Andrew Arnett, who frequented this residence.
Andrew Arnett remained at large for a long time after bolting from the courthouse last year upon learning that he was being court-watched by neighborhood folks. He, too, recently cropped up in the jail logs at long last – Andy’s up to his same old tricks. On 9/17 he was booked into Fulton County jail for several charges, including Auto Theft by Recieving, Possession of Meth, and Obstruction of Officer. Arnett’s history demonstrates a classic example of a street criminal who plays the system for years. Every time he gets his hand slapped, he wastes no time returning to a life of street crime. Through the court watch program we were able to affect a banishment from Ponce on a previous case, and he finally quit coming to Ponce once he understood that we are very serious about not having him around.
Jackie Sue Hunter, a middle-aged, life-long prostitute and street criminal in the area, has been making appearances in the area despite her banishment from most of the state of Georgia. She has been described on the street as a one-woman crime wave of her own. We are working to have probation officers cite her for violation of probation. It is a matter of time before we will be court watching her again to make sure she is put in her proper place.
The many reasons our neighborhood needs the MPSA have names like Jackie Sue Hunter, Andrew Arnett, and Donald Rayfield. These street criminals negatively affect the quality of life in our community, both collectively and individually. We work not only to fund the most effective patrol possible, but also to eliminate much of the need in the first place. For now, court watch opportunities are forthcoming…
Andrew Arnett, at the tip-top of our list right now, remains at large. Arnett bolted from the court room when he learned that he was about to be served with three new probation violation charges. Since then, he has been seen in the Ansley Mall area. We have advised businesses in that area to call the police should he be seen. Also, Arnett continues to defy his banishment from Ponce and appears anyhow. Once he is captured we will announce new court watch dates.
Jackie Sue Hunter, a street criminal on Ponce since the 1970′s, was banished from Fulton County and other areas as part of her recent sentence (we are unclear which of her many charges). She continues to appear at Ponce & Boulevard recently.
Spencer S., who was arrested last October for burglary, was sentenced recently to ten years probation. He will also be required to undergo drug rehab. We requested the inclusion of Ponce & Boulevard in his georgraphic banishment, but never heard back from the prosecutor handling the case. He’s a one of a kind street criminal – he actually has a college degree! We want to know if he appears in the area…
Jackie Sue Hunter, DOB 1957, came to our attention immediately when we first launched the patrol in 2003. For years she was a fixture at Charles Allen & Ponce working that corner as a prostitute using the street name of “Joyce.” She posed a major ongoing problem for the merchants at that corner due to her territorial and aggressive behavior. In 2006 DeKalb County handed her a two-year sentence for Possession of Firearm by Convicted Felon and other offenses. Upon her release in 2008 she resumed residence at the Ponce de Leon Hotel.
Recently she has been seen loitering along Ponce near Boulevard in a manner consistent with street prostitution. She has been a prostitute on Ponce de Leon since the 1970′s. Her criminal history reveals scores of arrests using many aliases, and she has accumulated several prison sentences in Georgia alone. Her long list of convictions, starting in the mid-1970′s, include: armed robbery, forgery, prostitution, and a wide range of theft and drug offenses. Since her release from her last prison sentence her criminal activity resumed – she has been arrested for auto theft and drug offenses. Her latest arrest came this past August for Auto theft. We will advise when she becomes a court watch case.
Below are some mugshots and field photos.