Man arrested for murder for hire plot

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PRESS RELEASE – The GBI arrested a Cleveland man for criminal solicitation in an attempted murder for hire case.

The man was also arrested and charged with home invasion and aggravated assault in a separate incident in White County, Georgia.

During the course of a Cleveland Police Department investigation, evidence was found that indicated Freddie Warthen, age 31, of Cleveland, attempted to hire someone to kill a former girlfriend.

In December of 2022, the GBI was requested to investigate the murder for hire information. During the GBI investigation, Warthen’s attempt to hire someone to kill a former girlfriend was confirmed.

Agents also learned that Warthen committed an aggravated assault during a home invasion in November of 2022 when he tried to attack an individual with a knife.

The home invasion occurred in the area of Judys Drive and was not previously reported to law enforcement. On Friday, January 6, 2023, Warthen was arrested and charged with criminal solicitation, home invasion in the first degree and aggravated assault.

Upon completion of the investigation, the case will be provided to the Enotah Judicial Circuit for prosecution.

Ralston calls for GBI investigation into Fulton County elections

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Richard Barron election investigation

ATLANTA, Ga – Elected officials are taking aim and Fulton County and its elections director Richard Barron, following new details regarding the 2020 election.

Today, Speaker of the House David Ralston (R – Blue Ridge) released the letter he sent to Fulton Elections Director Richard Barron. In the letter, Ralston requests Barron ask the GBI to investigate November 2020 election. He cited the mounting allegations against Fulton County as his reasoning behind the need for an investigation.


Georgia Speaker of the House of Representatives David Ralston

“Recently, media reports have surfaced which call into question the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election. These reports have been accompanied by video and other evidence which is part of on-going litigation and requires thorough examination and explanation. Given the seriousness of this situation and the possible repercussions for our state and nation, it is time we have an independent investigation – once and for all – of the way in which Fulton County conducted, counted and audited the November 2020 Presidential Election,” Ralston wrote.


Raffensperger calls for Barron’s firing

Throughout the week, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-Ga) has issued several tweets, and last month, he held a press conference in front of headlines concerning Fulton’s lengthy history of election problems.

primary Raffensperger georgia lawsuits

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Most recently, a report of the double-counting of 200 absentee ballots came to light after the new voting law made it public.

“Fulton County’s continued failures have gone on long enough with no accountability. Rick Barron and Ralph Jones, Fulton’s registration chief, must be fired and removed from Fulton’s elections leadership immediately. Fulton’s voters and the people of Georgia deserve better,” one of Raffensperger’s tweets read.

Earlier this year, the Fulton County Elections Board voted to fire Barron, but the commissioners rejected the termination.

Another tweet stated, “Long before November, I had been working to get Fulton to clean up their decades of election mismanagement.  Restoring confidence in our elections should be a bipartisan concern. Fulton County’s poor elections management is making that impossible.”

Raffensperger’s also gone on record urging Republicans to take “the lead on election regulation reform” and that the SOS assigned monitor found “significant management issues.”

Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts (D – Fulton) described Raffensperger’s call to fire Barron and Jones as a “sell out to conspiracy theorists.”

“His ultimate goal is based on the provisions of Senate Bill 202, he would like to take over the elections in Fulton County, that is not going to happen, period,” Pitts told Fox 5 Atlanta.

Under the Election Integrity Act (SB 202), the Secretary of State’s Office does have the authority to take over a county’s elections process if numerous instances of problems are documented. The Department of Justice is currently suing Georgia over the bill on the grounds that it violates voter’s civil rights.

Read the entirety of Ralston’s call for an election investigation below:

GBI Seeks Public’s Assistance in 2011 Toccoa Murder Investigation

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Toccoa, GA (March 5, 2020) – This month marks the nine year anniversary of the murder of
Robert Lee Simmons, Jr. The GBI is seeking the public’s assistance with any information about
Simmons’ last days and his murder. Simmons, 46, was found dead at his home at the Glendale
Apartments on Norman Drive on March 1, 2011 by a family member. The Toccoa Police
Department responded to the scene after receiving a 911 call. Simmons’ death was determined to
be a homicide.

This case has remained active for the past nine years and both the GBI and Toccoa Police
Department continue to work to solve this case. Recently, investigators have received new
promising leads in this investigation and are asking for help from those who knew Simmons.
Even the smallest detail may help police with this investigation.
Both law enforcement and Robert Simmons’ family and friends implore anyone with information
to contact the GBI or Toccoa Police Department. GBI Special Agent Shilo Crane is the case
agent and may be reached at 706-348-4866. Tips can also be made on the GBI Tipline at 800-
597-8477 or online submissions may be made on the GBI website: The
Toccoa Police Department may be contacted at 706-282-3244.

GBI Investigates Double Stabbing and Kidnapping in Toccoa



Toccoa, Georgia (September 24, 2019) – On Monday, September 23, 2019, the Georgia Bureau
of Investigation was requested by the Toccoa Police Department to assist in the investigation of a
double stabbing and kidnapping that occurred at a residence on Mill Street in Toccoa, Georgia.
The original 911 call was received at approximately 9 PM and alerted police that there had been
a stabbing and kidnapping at the Mill Street address. The Toccoa Police Department responded
and found two victims injured and another female, visiting the home, was missing. The victims
were identified as Nancy Johnson, 66 and Robert Maxwell, 64. Both Maxwell and Johnson were
transported to area hospitals for treatment. Maxwell is in critical condition.

The kidnapping victim was identified as Patricia Hall, 49, the wife of the suspect in this case
Kenton Deshaun Hall, 48. Throughout the night, intensive searches by GBI, Toccoa PD,
Stephens County Sheriff’s Office, GSP and DOC were conducted for both Patricia Hall and
Kenton Hall. Just after daybreak, Patricia Hall was located deceased near 306 Franklin Street.
Patricia Hall will be transported to the GBI Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. Kenton
Hall is still at large and the GBI and Toccoa PD are asking for the public’s assistance with
locating Hall. The GBI has taken warrants for Hall for murder, two counts of aggravated assault,
and kidnapping. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact 911, the Toccoa Police
Department 706-282-3244 or the GBI Tipline at 800-597-8477.

Commissioners approve four road improvement projects


Trent Hillsman

CLEVELAND, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners approved four road improvement projects at Monday’s Board of Commissioners meeting totaling $118,920 and the purchase of a bucket truck for the Public Works Department for $55,900.

Commissioners worked through a very lengthy agenda in fairly short order. The vote on the road projects was 4-0. Commissioner Craig Bryant recused himself due to a conflict of interest.

The Board welcomed Trent Hillsman as the new Special Agent in Charge of the GBI and approved a request to apply for the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office (ARDEO) for the 2019 Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Edward Byrne Memorial Grant .

ARDEO is self-sufficient, operating primarily on money seized during drug arrests.

Hillsman said, “This year we are expanding our regional office a little bit. We’re going to take two more counties on. We took a vote with the control board last week and we’re going to include Gilmer County and Fannin County. We’re told that we could get around $500,000 on the grant.Parks and Recreation Director Joe Gailey asked for and received unanimous approval to contract with three companies for improvements to the gymnasium. Southeastern Surfaces and Equipment received the contract to replace the gym floor for $75,110. Faciliserve will provide the low-rise bleachers at a cost of $11,012 and BSN will handle the demolition and removal of old bleachers and water proofing of the doors for a total of $7,365.

Commissioners also approved seven conditional use permits for the purposes of entering those properties in the county’s short-term rental program. Those properties include:

Two acres located at 57 Miway Lane in Sautee Nacoochee;

7.92 acres located at 114 Miway Lane in Sautee Nacoochee;

3.38 acres located at Chimney Mountain Road in Sautee Nacoochee;

10.92 acres located at 618 Joe Black Road  in Sautee Nacoochee

1.1 acres located at 28 Persimmon Road in Satee Nacoochee;

One acre located at 2241 Lothridge Road in Cleveland;

1.9 acres located at 69 Greystone Drive in Cleveland.

Debra Palmer was appointed to the Alcohol Beverage Commission by a unanimous vote.


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GBI Investigates Officer Involved Shooting in Habersham County, GA

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East Ellijay Police Officer Arrested. Theft by Taking

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The GBI arrested East Ellijay Police Office Michael McClure at approximately noon today February 14th 2018.  A copy of Booking report and warrant below.  FYN has requested a statement from the GBI and East Ellijay Police Chief Larry Callahan.

Below is a Press Release Statement from East Ellijay Chief of Police, Larry Callahan.

GBI Seeks Help with Identifying Body Found in Banks County.


GBI Seeks Help with Identifying Body

Commerce, Georgia – The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is seeking the public’s help in identifying human remains found near Interstate 85 in Banks County.

On Sunday, February 5, 2017, a skeleton was discovered in a wooded area near New Salem Methodist Church, at 2170 Highway 59, in Commerce.  The body’s location was one mile south of I-85, Exit 154 for Toccoa/SR 63/Martin Bridge Road.  The Banks County Sheriff’s Office requested GBI’s assistance with the investigation.

A forensic anthropological examination estimates the remains to be of an African American/Hispanic female, approximately 30-44 years of age, and approximately 4’9’ to 5’6” in height.  The date of death is estimated to be up to 4 years prior to the time of discovery.

Found among the remains, was a metal ring and a butterfly necklace charm (see attached photographs). Blue, purple, and gray in color fabrics were also collected from the scene. Dental is available for comparison.

Anyone with information concerning the case is asked to call the GBI Athens office at 706-552-2309 or the Banks County Sheriff’s Office at 706-677-2248. Information may also be submitted on-line here.

The GBI Crime Lab Receives Synthetic Opioid Carfentanil

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Decatur, GA – Within the past week, the GBI Crime Lab’s drug identification unit received three cases from separate seizures of the synthetic opioid carfentanil. Carfentanil is a fentanyl analog used as a tranquilizer on large animals such as elephants.

It is purported to be 100 times stronger than fentanyl and suspected of playing a role in hundreds of overdoses in the Midwest part of the country this past month. It can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin and very toxic in small quantities. The cases that came in the lab were from the metro Atlanta area and were all suspected to be heroin. As a result of this drug coming into the GBI Crime Lab, lab scientists have enhanced their safety protocols to protect them from the potential dangers.

Some of the changes include wearing a face mask as well as testing any case suspected to contain heroin under a ventilated hood. Officer safety is of grave concern and all officers are strongly encouraged to take extreme caution when handling any suspected opioid.

Carfentanil is not intended for human use and the opioid overdose reversal drug Narcan may be effective but only after multiple doses. The public is urged to be aware of the extreme dangers of handling and consuming carfentanil.

GBI Investigating Inmate Death


The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Georgia Department of Corrections are currently investigating the death of Christopher Verner, 23, an inmate at Appling Integrated Treatment Facility in Baxley, Georgia.  On Friday, August 26, Verner collapsed at the Appling ITF and was ultimately transferred to Savannah Memorial where he died August 27, 2016.  The GBI Medical Examiner’s Office conducted the autopsy and the results are pending.





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