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5 indicted for S. Fayette heavy equipment chop shop

Five people have been indicted for participating in a heavy equipment chop shop that was discovered May 18 just outside of the town of Brooks in south Fayette County.

Ronald J. Martin and Shane D. Spino, both of 455 Morgan Mill Road, Brooks, Charles Allen Rippy Jr. of Todd Road, Greenville, Nathaniel B. Morris of Pine Street, Zebulon, and Nathan William Lunsford of Garner Road, Alvaton will face felony charges in connection with the case.

The illegal operation was discovered May 18 by sheriff’s deputies after the sheriff’s helicopter Hawk 1 picked up a signal emitted by a stolen Caterpillar D8 bulldozer that had been taken earlier in the morning, officials said.

Deputies on the ground responded to the home at Morgan Mill Road and found a number of stolen vehicles ranging from four wheelers to heavy equipment. The total value of the discovered equipment was well over $1.5 million, making the operation the largest LoJack theft discovery in the state of Georgia.

Martin is charged with six counts of operating a chop shop, 18 counts of theft by receiving stolen property. Rippy is charged with four counts of operating a chop shop; Morris is charged with three counts of operating a chop shop and Lunsford and Spino each were charged with two counts of operating a chop shop.

Sheriff’s investigators have determined the operation was selling some of the heavy equipment to people outside the state and some of it was sold to local scrap yards for money.

An indictment is not evidence of guilt but it is a signal by the grand jury that there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to adjudication in Fayette County Superior Court.

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