PERRY -- Felony theft by receiving charges against the owner of a Bonaire automobile salvage yard have been dismissed as part of a negotiated plea to misdemeanor vehicle-title offenses.
Lunda Jack Young Jr., 40, owner of Emmett Head Auto Parts at 447 Ga. 247 S., pleaded guilty last week in Houston County Superior Court to 11 counts of failure to cancel a certificate of title.
He was sentenced by Judge Katherine K. Lumsden to 12 months probation and ordered to pay $5,500 in fines, court records show.
Young initially was indicted in October 2012 on 11 counts of theft by receiving stolen vehicles. The indictment followed his arrest by Houston County sheriffs investigators after several stolen vehicles were recovered on his salvage yard July 28, 2011.
Investigators were acting on a tip from a reliable source, the incident report stated. The vehicles were reported stolen by a mix of insurance companies and individual owners, the indictment stated. The indictment alleged that Young knew or should have known that the vehicles were stolen.
On Feb. 27, Young was arrested on the misdemeanor charges based on an accusation filed by prosecutor Jacob Poole. Young pleaded guilty to the misdemeanors the same day and paid the fines, which amounted to $500 per vehicle.
The accusation, which is similar to an indictment except it is brought by a prosecutor and not a grand jury, included the same vehicles that were the basis of the felony indictment. The plea agreement called for dismissal of the felony indictment, both the prosecutor and defense attorney said.
Steve Hollomon, Youngs Warner Robins attorney, noted that Young consistently and adamantly denied knowing the vehicles were stolen.
Hollomon said the misdemeanors Young pleaded guilty to were related to his inexperience as a new owner.
The misdemeanors dealt with Young failing to deliver sworn statements to the state about the age and value of the vehicles in place of the certificate of title within 72 hours of receiving the vehicles, according to Georgia law.
Based on the totality of the case, Poole said he thought its disposition was fair.
Poole said he weighed factors such as the fact that the same charges of the indictment under recent revisions in state law are misdemeanors based on the value of each vehicle at less than $1,500, Young had no prior record and was new to owning the business.
Also, of hundreds of vehicles on the salvage yard, just 11 were brought into question, what Young may or may not have known would be difficult to prove, and a key witness could not be located, Poole said.
To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.