GBI plans to narrow probe in Warner Robins tire case

WARNER ROBINS — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has agreed to look into the “circumstances of the decision not to prosecute” in a Warner Robins police case involving tires dumped illegally on city property.

Gary Rothwell, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Perry office, said Wednesday that the agency’s investigation will be “very narrow” in scope and will not include probing the illegal dumping.

The decision was reached Wednesday after a meeting between GBI agents and City Attorney Jim Elliott, Rothwell said.

Elliott said his understanding was also that the GBI was only looking at the circumstances concerning the decision of whether to prosecute, or whether to halt the police investigation.

Rothwell said the GBI investigation will be geared toward identifying the circumstances of the decision and ensuring nothing criminal was a part of it.

On Friday, Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen asked the GBI to investigate the handling of the discovery of tires illegally dumped on the city’s industrial park property.

“On Feb. 17, 2010, employees of the city discovered a site where a large number of tires had been illegally dumped in the city’s Foy S. Evans Industrial Park, and a criminal investigation ensued,” Shaheen wrote in a letter requesting the GBI investigation. “A number of allegations have arisen out of that investigation, and I believe it would be in the best interest of the city that an outside agency inquire into the handling of the matter.”

About 800 to 1,000 tires were found last month discarded on the city’s property by Warner Robins police officer Michael Allen Moriarty, according to a Warner Robins police report.

Moriarty suspected that the tires were from the former White’s Tire City at 104 Commercial Circle, which the city had condemned and had hired Francisco Resendez, 54, of Sycamore, to remove the tires, according to the report. Resendez, who noted that he is an American citizen who moved to Warner Robins from Sycamore a few months ago, said Tuesday he did not dump tires on city property.

Warner Robins police Sgt. Eric Gossman, who works in code enforcement, said police had enough circumstantial evidence to build a felony illegal dumping case against Resendez but that Shaheen told him not prosecute.

In the police report, Moriarty wrote, “I was informed by Capt. Charles (Bill) Capps that the Mayor, Mr. Chuck Shaheen, did not want to prosecute Mr. Resendez. Nothing further. Case closed. A waiver of prosecution was taken to Mayor Shaheen to sign.”

Capps, who oversees code enforcement, said the report speaks for itself. “That’s what he said,” Capps said of Shaheen.

Shaheen said he did not sign the waiver nor should he have been asked to make the call on whether or not Resendez should be prosecuted.

Shaheen also said he did not ask police to call off the investigation. Gossman said the investigation was resumed Friday after he learned that the mayor had changed his position. Gossman also said he did not ask Shaheen whether the case should be prosecuted but was told not to prosecute the case after informing Shaheen about it.

The investigation into the illegal dumping was turned over to the Warner Robins police criminal investigations division, according to Capps and Capt. Chris Rooks, head of investigations.

To contact writer Becky Purser, call 256-9559.